Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith, Brian Kellock

Whispering of the Stars

2014, Spartacus Records

Tommy Smith's Whispering of the Stars

"Devoting a beautiful saxophone sound to the interpretation of popular standard songs is a pursuit that goes back 80 years or more – but Scottish saxist Tommy Smith and his resourceful and sensitive piano partner, Brian Kellock, prove how much mileage remains in it here." [read more]

Next concerts:

  • 07.05.2016
    United Kingdom — the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra in Edinburgh at Studio Theatre
  • 08.05.2016
    United Kingdom — the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra in Glasgow at Glasgow Concert Hall
  • 12.05.2016
    United Kingdom — Arild Andersen Trio – Paolo Vinaccia • Tommy Smith in Edinburgh, Scotland at Queen’s Hall

News

December 30, 2015

Instrumental Tuition

Ten thousand thanks for all your tremendous support.

TSYJO Hub CFR 282ColinRobertson2

As we hit 10,000 signatures that emphatically oppose the proposed Edinburgh City Council destructive cut of 75% to our Instrumental Tuition Service, we step significantly closer to eventually hearing from a senior Council officer and the evidence they may communicate at a public meeting to whether they will expunge their apathetic overture.

The Edinburgh City Council Petition Committee, which consists of 10 members: 3 Labour; 3 SNP; 2 Conservative; 1 Green; and 1 SLD, all congregate on Thursday 21 January 2016 and trustingly will discuss and debate our petition with philosophic wisdom.

The committee is:

Councillor Jeremy Balfour [Con] Telephone: 0131 529 4083 E: jeremy.balfour@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Chas Booth[Green] Telephone: 0131 529 3182 E: chas.booth@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Denis Dixon [SNP] Telephone: 0131 529 4988 E: denis.dixon@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Marion Donaldson[Lab] Telephone: 0131 469 3841 E: marion.donaldson@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Paul Edie [Lib] Telephone: 0131 529 3172 E: paul.edie@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Nick Gardner [Lab] Telephone: 0131 529 3282 E: nick.gardner@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Karen Keil [Lab] Telephone: 0131 529 3261 E: karen.keil@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor David Key [SNP] Telephone: 0131 529 3260 E: david.key@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Alex Lunn [SNP] Telephone: 0131 529 4956 E: alex.lunn@edinburgh.gov.uk

Councillor Lindsay Paterson [Con] Telephone: 0131 529 4970 E: lindsay.paterson@edinburgh.gov.uk

Scottish singer, songwriter, musician and actress, Shirley Manson has written this heartfelt letter to the council, which I encourage you to read.

“Dear City of Edinburgh Council

It has been brought to my attention that you are proposing a 75% cut to the budget that funds Edinburgh’s instrumental music tuition and all of the Edinburgh Schools Orchestras and ensembles.

It is difficult at this time in our culture, where everything is weighed, measured and valued in financial terms or by how popular it is, for music education to be considered important or necessary.

However it is crucial as a society that we safeguard as many of the beautiful, wonderful, nebulous things that bring joy and happiness to people all across the globe, that are of cultural importance.

The difficulty being that the cultural importance and the impact of music is often impossible to evaluate in simple monetary terms.

Unless music is presented in the particular form that generates massive amounts of money for the corporate world and proves itself wildly popular to an international pre-teen audience, it becomes so easy to dismiss.

I understand you are in a tough position. Setting budgets to run a city cannot be easy.

But I beg you to rethink your position on this proposal.

We are living in dark times. The news is at best depressing, at it’s worst, terrifying.

Music is an art form that transcends terror. It is the exquisite and beautiful opposing force to everything that is cruel and frightening in this world.
Please do not rob the school children of Edinburgh of the opportunity to engage with music, learn from it, fall in love with it, master it.

As a former pupil of Flora Stevenson Primary School and Broughton High School in Edinburgh, I have personally benefited directly from the musical tuition that was offered up to students in Edinburgh as part of our educational curriculum.

As a result apparently of displaying an aptitude for music I was picked out by my teachers for both violin and clarinet tuition. I played in my school orchestras and sang with both choirs.

I have gone on to enjoy a career in music that has lasted over 30 years. I’ve played all over the world and been exposed to so many experiences that I am so fortunate and grateful to have had.

There is not a day goes by when I don’t think how lucky I am.

Everywhere I have travelled I have spoken of the immense good fortune of being born in Edinburgh where I received a musical education that I quickly came to realize was exemplary.

I hope that the pupils of Edinburgh schools with an aptitude for music continue to be as fortunate as I was.

That is what I hope for them and for the great city of Edinburgh.

Finally…..I hope that anyone in Edinburgh with a love of music will repost this story of these proposed cuts, protest in their own voice where possible and lend their name to the petition of protest on Change.Org

I also urge any Edinburgh based papers to report on this story.

Perhaps if we all push together, we can make a change to this proposal.
After all, in the words of the mighty Patti Smith,
PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER.
Love all, hate no one.”
Sx

Here are some other quotes from individuals who signed the petition:

“Free music tuition is a lifeline of help to so many children from very mixed backgrounds. It enriches life and broadens horizons.”
Michael Holton, Haddington, United Kingdom

“I don’t want school instrument tuition to be the exclusive preserve of the affluent middle class in Scotland. As if it wasn’t a big enough deterrent already for poorer households that families have to pay for a child’s musical instrument, this move will make it even less likely that a child from a poorer household will have the opportunity to play an instrument.”
Rebecca Reid, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

“My daughter has benefited immensely from free music tuition, both at primary and secondary school. Our primary school’s parents association regularly buys more instruments to allow the wind and brass band to grow.
Private music tuition is unaffordable and a luxury for many families. If this extreme cut goes through, so many kids won’t get a chance to receive music lessons and schools will be left with a pile of instruments and no one to use them!

The music tuition service is so much more than just weekly lessons – there are numerous performance experiences throughout the year, the experience and challenge of dedicated practice and the rewards that brings, boost to self confidence and positive impact on mental health… there will be children who may struggle with other aspects of school, but excel at their music tuition.
How many young musicians will we lose? How many young people who wish to become a professional musician, but their families cannot afford lessons or to spend hundreds of pounds on providing instruments at home?
Learning to play an instrument should NOT become an elitist pastime.”
Jeda Lewis, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

https://www.change.org/p/city-of-edinburgh-council-say-no-t…

Image by Colin Robertson

September 15, 2014

Independency

Heart of Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s 12th Century broken heart

Erupts with celebratory applause,

Smiles caress Rodin’s sweet art

Through untouchable marital laws.

 

Imposition of Anglican liturgy

Ruffles the golden goose,

Literal Presbyterian eulogy

Frees the hangman’s noose.

 

Senses agitate, foreheads glisten,

I arise and respectfully follow

The newly weds as the congregation listen

To the organ as it reverberates fortissimo.

 

Floating through holy aisles

Merriments trail dank air,

In the High Kirk of St. Giles

Odors spiral plaited hair.

 

Feverish allergy, invasive toxins

Filter the word of God Anglais

Generations of invasions,

Dictating guilt, fear and compulsion to pray.

 

Sporting my ancestor’s pretty kilt,

An amusing breeze blows cool and airy,

Towards the evening’s cotton quilt,

Music and sobering malt of the ceilidh.

 

Beyond the Kirk, adjacent to the spirits

And spit of the Nation’s heart,

A King Charles Chevalier pivots

And zooms after a once elusive wildcat.

 

I kilter off balance but steady myself

On the 5th Duke of Buccleuch’s statue,

And pretend nothing happened by averting my gaze

To a gull perched on Walter’s curlicue.

 

While posing for photos the feisty cat

Rockets by chasing the King,

I exhale a sigh as the feline acrobat

Regains dignity after centuries of pursuing.

 

The married couple mount their Mercedes

As the bride’s bouquet silhouettes the sky,

Rotating like a ballerina in a meadow of daises

Descending eagerly towards the passersby.

 

Caught by the pernicious cantankerous gull,

Fibonacci’s posy of elegant roses nosedive,

Graze and tumble upon the stony quadrangle;

White bouquet and persistent scoundrel survive.

 

Dog and cat attack with synchronized jaws,

The gull ascends with a caaa-caaaa rose-free,

To perch upon a spouting gargoyle because

Views far above are Albany.

 

Guests awe and gasp at the tangle of fur,

Then the wildcat escapes into the Kirk

To feast on intelligent rats that scamper;

Furry spirits oblivious of latticework.

 

The procession navigates down the Royal Mile

Past a piper playing a lament.

The throne of Arthur’s volcanic smile,

Shadows North Bridge’s foundation cement.

 

We arrive back at the Balmoral hotel,

It’s clock famously two minutes early

To assist travelers in wishing their farewells

Either north or south of Waverley.

 

In room 1314, I cast off my breeches

And ventilate to meet the elite,

At the gathering of the speeches

In the sumptuous Sir Walter Scott suite.

 

Drinking and legless jollity follow

Euphoric dances and giant roast beefs,

Swirling yards of tartanisms that echo

Inflicted shame on banned clan-chiefs.

 

I try to pause, expressions melt

And the room heaves and burls,

Fire face red, drunken celt

Let’s bribe more greedy Earls.

 

I quickly poured another malt

And addressed my swaying kilt,

Slurring like sleat in a somersault,

Dam, dram gracing floor, spilt.

 

“Ye bedraggled, mothball eaten

Patriotic fabric o’ time.

I plead yu tae speak tae m’

Yu mishmash o tartan slime.

 

Resonate wi’ m’ a smack

Or a smidgeon o realization

Aboot Scootlund, th’ jack

‘N’ this country’s unionization.

 

Impart yer scholarly wisdom,

Recall fae future-past.

Ah implore yu, ah beseech yu.

Yu wooly Hielan outcast.”

 

The kilt speaks:

 

“Aye!

You are certainly intoxicated sir

And that’s no way to speak to a kilt.

I’ll be a truthful babbler

Until your self-confidence is unbuilt.

 

Frankly!

You are nothing but a pretender

Perpetuating a myth.

Why do you call yourself Scottish

When only you recognize it, Adam Smith?

 

Prittle-Prattle!

You are a chinwagger with a foreign dialect

Uttering fast rhythmic sounds,

That baffles the southern intellect

And reinforces Hadrian’s mounds.

 

Unfathomable!

Yer locked in th’ cludgie                                         

Huvin a wee stooshie                                             

Juist cause a wee beastie

Bit ye oan th’ bahookie.                                         

 

Impossible!

Yer juist a wee radge                                              

Wha’s erse needs skelpin,

Juist haud yer wheesht gadge,

Or ye’ll git a beltin!

 

Coward!

Yer a wee cowering hoolet,                                  

Sleekit, muckle clocked ‘n’ glaikit,               

Gonnae shoogle ‘n’ cool it                        

Ye schemie peely-wally eejit.

 

Honestly!

Yer juist pure mingin’

Wi’ wiry hairy oxters

‘A’ yer aye bloody singin’

Aboot charlatans ‘n’ hoaxers.

 

Inebriated!

Howfur come yer aye blootered

Oan dreich ‘n’ bonnie days,

Mibbie yer wappenshaw needs neutered  

‘A’ goosed lik’ a Fabergé.                            

 

Insignificant!

Sae ye’r left a’ alane

W’ mawkit geggie screamin’

Na need tae hae anither bairn

Cried Albany fur th’ schemin’.                               

 

Proclaiming yourself a Scot

Is considered rank, invalid and vain;

Powerless strength, seamless crackpot,

By law, you must declare the Kingdoms chained.

 

While completing a passport application

Your alien identity is misconstrued,

Intertwined through world web officiation,

You must choose UK on drop-down menus.

 

You smirk and shrug it off

Like a placid Presbyterian beast,

Tamed like the house of Romanov

Through centuries of countless deceased.

 

You are still a puny pretender

Perpetuating a folkloric disjoin phage.

Call yourself a Scottish defender?

When no one recognizes your coinage.

 

You are scared of transformation,

You are petrified of going it alone,

You are anxious about monetary misinformation,

You are sheep, worried about clearances and headstones.”

 

I reply to the cloth of my ancestors:

 

“Bun-kum, a tum-tom toosh!

Why are you beating aboot the bush!

Plaidie squabbling fabrication.

Haggis basher, get oot ma Nation!

 

Your razor edged tongue,

Sharply poisoned with veracity,

Wounds deeply cutting among

My lacerated audacity.”

 

The kilt interrupts:

 

“Take me off and put yer troosers on Jock!

 

For seven hundred years

Scots and English bled.

Endless battles, crimson tears

Countless Kings dead.

 

Acts upon Acts

Of law enforcing power,

Legally bound to detract

Behead and devour.

 

Acts of Settlement, Security & Proscription

Burned freedom into our heart,

Poisoned political cunning inscription

Forced the Scottish nation to part.

 

Scaremongering tactics and chanty jive

See karmic laws unfold untold truth,

For the Alien Act of 1705

Pressurized the Scots and future youth.

 

By treating Scots as foreign nationals,

Their estates as alien assets,

The Alien Act was so irrational

But achieved its sweet regrets.

 

Unless we entered freely

Into a union with mighty England,

Half of Scottish trade discreetly

Embargoed in my opinion.

 

The Scottish Parliament’s conclusion,

106 Ayes to 69 Noes,

By signing the Act of Union,

1707 an extremist blow.

 

Scottish people powerless to change

Broke out in discontent,

The Kirk & Jacobites did arrange

A partnership to torment.

 

An English-dominanted Parliament

That provoked us from within,

Bought loyal Scottish predicament

And their alliance a bargain.

 

Paltry pounds of callousness

Our future fate was clinched,

National self-consciousness

Injured, pitied and lynched.

 

After the Union in 1707

Followed more bloody wars,

Corpses ascended to Wallace in heaven,

Blood streamed Scottish shores.

 

Glenshiel, Prestonpans and Sheriffmuir,

All screamed with axe and sword,

Death lay wallowing on Culloden Moor

Where brave Jacobites once roared.

 

The ground black with blood,

Scots gutted, slain and strewn,

Writhing insane in clotted mud,

Cut down by red Dragoons.

 

To end the Scottish Highlands

Ability to revolt,

The English crushed my lands

With a fist of thunderbolt.

 

For thrity-six years the English smashed

The structure of the Clans.

Hushed and crushed while necks were slashed,

Me, the Highland Dress was Banned!

 

Half a year of incarceration

For wearing a Highland kilt,

Proud price to pay for separation,

Trousers cover coward’s guilt.

 

Caught a second time

With Tartan underneath,

Seven years for crime

Grinding at your teeth.

 

His Majesty’s Plantations

Across the seas, wait for you to come,

Enough of poignant lamentations

To the beat of the English drum.

 

Scottish heritable Sheriffdoms

Reverted to English Crown,

Plaid wearing meddlesome

People and culture drown.

 

But before and since 1707

Scots discovered and dreamed,

Inventions that observed heaven,

Others that puffed and steamed.

 

From the pneumatic Tyre wheel to tubular Steel,

The Telephone and Sherlock Holmes,

Radio, Radar, the Calendar,

Television and Higgs Boson.

 

Bank of England, Bank of France,

Let’s vote Aye and clasp a chance,

Marmalade and Stirling Heat,

Let’s not forget Dolly, the Postage Stamp Sheep.

 

Curling, Golf, Shinty and Football,

Cycling and Peter Pan,

Long John Silver, the Carnegie Hall,

Macleod of Lewis Clan.

 

SAS, ATM,

MIR and PIN,

BBC, Sean Connery,

Malt Whisky and Modern Sociology.

 

Hypnotism and Hogmany,

Insulin and Colour Photography,

Chloroform, Burke and Hare,

Billy Connolly’s bum is bare.

 

Blue Picts,

Fierce and tribal,

Irrefutably read,

King James Bible.

 

Miles of Wire Rope,

Tins of Shortbread,

Fuzzy Kaleidoscope,

Cotton-Reel Thread.

 

Modern Pharmacopoeia,

Britannica Encyclopedia,

General Anesthesia,

Did we invent Wikipedia?

 

Certainly not!

But Modern Geology,

Oxygen Therapy,

SI unit power, Watt?

 

Iron Bru and Paraffin,

Electrocardiography,

Fax Machine and Halloween,

World’s first Oil Refinery.

 

With a Gregorian Telescope

You spot a humpbacked whale,

Iron Steamship isotopes

Spouting Kelvin’s Scale.

 

New York Herald, Penicillin,

First text book on Surgery,

Self Filling Pen hyperventilates

Modern Asthma Therapy.

 

Imaginations for creation

Enlighten our amazing nation:

Bovril Gravy, United States Navy,

Hypocritical nonproliferation.

 

Worthy of no parchment declaration,

Our backyard a dumping ground,

Northlands a faded sensation,

Experimental people uncrowned.

 

We send taxes down the road,

Where they decide to spend it,

If we keep our money stowed,

Return Poseidon’s Trident.

 

But today I remind you aristocrats

Repetition of History wail,

While spiteful political diplomats

Panic North Briton’s tail.

 

Render us mute and impotent,

Coerce and bully the Scots,

Quivering and non-combatant,

Stagnate like putrid water-pots.

 

Light the fire in your belly,

Melt their offensive rhetoric,

Be inspired by Machiavelli,

Focus and be a maverick.

 

But as a pseudo Scotsman

You wrestle negative doubt,

Quietly observing the fiery charlatan,

It’s important to rise and shout.

 

Your focus and deliberation,

Passport to the world,

Grants you passage for exploration,

Warmed heart unfurled.

 

Years of circling the globe

Sees a soul without a nation,

Scottish loot a xenophobe,

Undesirable innovation.

 

You forget to exchange your money

And travel far abroad,

To reach cloudless lands of honey

Quickly on Concorde.

 

Without thought or question

Nor pious picky prejudice,

You present foreign indigestion

With speechless guttural injustice.

 

Embarrassed you drift away,

Credit card at home,

Your cash burned by Dante,

And head back to the aerodrome.

 

Coin of Hans Christensen Andersen,

Considered false economy,

Exchanged to English loot in London,

Scotty-dosh no isonomy.

 

The tens of thousands that have died for Scottish freedom

Mean nothing to the no-thank-you sway,

For finance and fear have always defeated

Scottish integrity.

 

Can’t do….

Can’t leave…

Can’t decide..

Can’t succeed.

 

Yes we can do….

Yes we can leave…

Yes we can decide..

Yes we can achieve.

 

Why trust the banks

Who gambled our currency,

Whose mis-managed managers overdrank

And deliquesced this Nation’s solvency.

 

Expounding Scotland’s future

Is in the hands of our youth,

Uprising for our Culture,

Welfare, Workforce and Truth.

 

Making your own mind up,

Hope conquers enforced fears,

Job opportunities lined up

Progressional new careers.

 

Intimidation from doomsayers

In our land, our garden of Eden,

Self governance welcome naysayers,

Our backyard, our freedom.

 

Oil fund for generations,

Ta-ta to crumbs from Westie’s table,

Governing budgets and administrations,

Our country rich and stable.

 

If you vote and cross a no,

Democratic right is yours,

Carved in the manifesto,

Enticing atomic lures.

 

In times when a ghostie wrote,

You prayed and crossed your cross,

Limbs believed a single vote,

Empowered the Alba-tross.

 

Tuning to the solo note,

The power is ours to spend,

Yes Aye, is the antidote,

And our country will transcend.

 

We are people determined to carve

A path out in the snow,

Clear directives not to starve

And govern our own show.

 

Or is our destiny to be wrapped

In fluff and cotton-wool,

And looked after like a patient strapped

In an asylum fit for fools.

 

We have clearly been diagnosed

Crazy and off our heads,

To contemplate, coast to coast,

City freedom to farmstead.

 

For we know not, how to run

Our own land as in England,

Nine hundred years, empowered sons

Since first King Kenneth MacAlpin.

 

YES is not an aye in the sky,

It’s a real optimistic choice

To banish the Union’s samurai,

Clean cut through and rejoice.

 

Our hands and impressions

Decide our future plans,

Our bonds and expressions

Shape our vibrant lands.

 

It’s healthier to be neighbours

Than be ruled until you’re blue,

No ambition to govern raiders,

In woe, we’ll help you through.”

 

 

And with a weave of passion

The kilt unfolds its memories

And slumps on gravelly ground,

Silence unravels mysteries

That embroider and astound.

 

For the future is clearer

Than the brightest bluest sky,

Our cosmopolitan nation-state should always be independent,

Make it that way again and vote Aye!

 

Written by Tommy Smith

 

 

June 16, 2014

Tommy Smith – Live At The Barbican, London

May 20, 2014

Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock

The Catstrand, New Galloway, Scotland 18 April 2014 (more…)

March 2, 2014

SNJO featuring Kurt Elling

Glasgow, Feb. 2014