A SAXOPHONIST who finds inspiration in Robert the Bruce will help to bring Outwith Festival to a close at Dunfermline Abbey.

Tommy Smith will be returning to the venue - one of his favourites - for a solo concert next month.

The Edinburgh-born musician has toured in more than 50 countries in a professional career which started when he was just 14 years old.

His fondness for Dunfermline Abbey comes from its connection to one of his heroes, Robert the Bruce.

Tommy said: "When I play in the Abbey I stand just in front of Bruce’s tomb.

"Most people know the story about Bruce and the spider.

"It’s a great example of the perseverance he had to show in becoming king and all that followed, and a real inspiration."

Having toured the world at the age of 18 with one of jazz’s great instrumentalists, vibes virtuoso Gary Burton, Tommy has gained the admiration of many of jazz’s major names, including the late pianist Chick Corea, trumpeter Randy Brecker and guitarist John Scofield.

After returning to Scotland in the 1990s, Tommy realised that his home-country was in need of a a national jazz orchestra and a full-time jazz course at conservatoire level.

This would take jazz talent development up to a similar level as in the Scandinavian countries he had spent time in.

He formed the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, which he still leads as musical director, in 1995.

Then, after many years of campaigning, he became head of jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2009.

The course he leads there has helped to produce young talent such as Mercury Prize-nominated Fergus McCreadie, who played with Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (FYJO) for six years, and BBC Young Jazz award winner 2022, bassist Ewan Hastie.

Tommy's own accomplishments include concerts at the prestigious Rochester Jazz Festival in New York and at Buxton and Lichfield festivals.

He also performed solo at St Giles' Cathedral as part of this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Looking forward to his show at Dunfermline Abbey, he said: "I love the sound in the Abbey.

"It’s a very responsive acoustic and as I don’t use microphones or a PA, the audience gets to hear the natural sound of the saxophone.

"I won’t know what I’m going to play beyond the first melody until I start playing.

"After that I just see where the music takes me, so it’ll be a surprise for the listeners and a surprise for me, too."

Tommy will perform at the Abbey on Sunday, September 10, from 6.30pm. 

More information and tickets are available from the Outwith Festival website.