It’s a contemporary big-band triumph in its inspired arrangements (by Christian Jacob, Smith, Mike Gibbs and others), sensitive execution and transfixing solo improvisations. […]. Andersen is agile on the uptempo music and sensuous on a meditation like Jan Garbarek’s Molde Canticle. The album is a mix of the best contemporary big-band methods with the tone poem atmospherics so widely associated with the ECM label this project was designed to celebrate.
John Fordham, The Guardian
Andersen kann seinen Bass schön singen oder sich in hohen Flageoletts auflösen lassen. Tommy Smith bringt sich it seinem starken obertonreichen Sound und seiner Virtuosität als einer der bedeutendsten Spieler der europäischen Jazzszene n Erinnerung. Er ist dort zu wenig präsent. Man hat manchmal den Eindruck, dass er sich in Schottland zu wohl fühlt und zu wenig reist. Nach dieser CD vergisst man ihn nicht so schnell.
Ulrich Olshausen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
In the jazz world, having your celebration of the music associated with ECM Records considered suitable for relase by the label itself is a pretty impressive accolade. Inviting the marvellous Norwegian double bass player Arild Andersen, whose association with the label stretches back to some of its earliest releases, to be the featured soloist may have smoothed the way. But while Andersen’s playing is as majestic, nimble and big-toned as expected, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s quality of musicianship and ensemble sound make it an equal partner – at the very least- in this enterprise.
Rob Adams, Sunday Herald
As soon as this album ended, I wanted to hear it again. Its concerto-like mix of masterful front-of-band solos by Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen, historic compositions associated with the ECM label and intricately developed arrangements by the likes of Christian Jacob, Trygve seim and Scottish National Jazz Orchestra director Tommy Smith conspire to make it one of the best albums of the year.
Paul de Barros, Downbeat
Celebration is an atypical ECM album. It is a live big-band recording and a “greatest hits” project, and its somewhat distant sonic perspective on the orchestra lacks the intimacy of the “ECM sound”. But the more you listen the more sense it makes. Arild Andersen chose six songs associated with the ECM label, and comissioned six different arrangers to create new charts for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Tommy Smith. […] Most of these pieces began life as small-group music. It is revelatory to hear them elaborated and magnified for a large orchestra, and to hear all previous solo voices amalgamated into one. Andersen is eloquent and flowing and endlessly suggestive.
Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes
If these titles are sounding strangely familiar, that´s because Celebration was originally a “celebrates the music of ECM” concert in Glasgow, put on two years ago by Thommy Smith and his SNJO. […] Smith has the orchestra tuned like a Maserati and it´s testimony to his and their skills that the increasingly layered and complex Ulrika Dans comes off at all, not just in an umpteenth studio take, but on the night. There´s no undue fuss or flourish in the playing, just tight, deft esamble work of a pleasingly old-fashioned sort. Andersen is main soloist, richtoned and thoughtful. He respects this material as much as anyone and his phenomenal double-stopped solo on My Song is both personal statement and heartfelt tribute to the composer. A triumph all round.
Brian Morton, Jazz Journal
Compositions by some of the label’s biggest stars are given a lush big band makeover, with Andersen’s sonorous bass artfully capturing the essence of the originals. A unique and unusual celebration that deftly balances the new and the familiar.
Cormac Larkin, Irish Times
After the blistering take of Dave Hollands "May Dance" wich features the conductor's fiery tenor, the concert coalesces into an intriguing mix between orchestral movements with Andersen's bass creating thick grooves, solos and segues within tunes such as Jan Garbarek's "Molde Canticle" and Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence". The melding of moods and textures reaches an apotheosis on an enriched and penetrating enunciation of Keith Jarrett's "My Song", bringing out harmonies and pastels that can only be hinted at with a piano. Wondrous music.
George W. Harris
The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra make their ECM debut with their homage to the label, ‘Celebration’, confirming the qualities that brought them to the Parliamentary Jazz Awards’ Ensemble of the Year title with the top drawer playing, terrific arrangements and the bonus of a fabulous guest soloist in Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen.
Rob Adams, Jazz UK
I’m not usually a fan of ‘tribute’ albums but this is one of the best of the genre with the imaginative arrangements and superb musicianship putting a fresh slant on the chosen material. Of course many of these compositions are solid gold classics but many of them started out as small group pieces and it’s fascinating to hear them in a diffrent context. Smith and particularly Andersen are brilliant throughout, there aren’t too many bassists around who could maintain the listeners interest as the featured soloist over a whole CD but Andersen is one of them, his fluency and imagination seem to know no bounds and he’s such an intrinsically melodic player. Like so many of the musicians on the ECM roster he has a highly personal, instantly identifiable sound.
Ian Mann, The Jazzmann.com
Eine kleine Labelretrospektive der anderen Art im Großformat der Bigbands, die ohnehin gerade eine Renaissance erleben. Und vor allem aber eine reizvolle Neubegegnung mit ECM-Klassikern, deren Leuchtkraft neu kalibriert wird.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Jazzthing
I was intrigued and a little concerned at the outset to hear how the delicacy of much ECM music might translate into the bold power of the SNJO. Any fears were quickly allayed – this is, of course, a group of musicians as adept at being the quietly sensitive jazz orchestra as they are at being the swaggering big band. And, of course, Andersen is such an eloquent soloist, a winning combination of sensitivity and swagger himself.
Peter Bacon, The Jazz Breakfast