Bassoonist Smith takes a clutch of bebop, post-bop and blues standards and play them in a solid and accomplished nature. The unusual tone of the bassoon (for jazz anyway) makes for an interesting spin on this familiar material, holding listeners attention on what might otherwise run the risk of being a routine run through of well known songs. The buzzing sound of the instrument adds a different ambiance to the music, but to Smith's credit, he is still able to improvise with agility on this demanding material. He is accompanied on this album by Martin Bejerano on piano, Edward Perez on bass, and Ludwig Afonso on drums, with two guest spots by guitarist Larry Campbell. Classic hard bop compositions make up the backbone of the material, the funky nature of this material really seems to appeal to the group. Horace Silver's "The Jody Grind" and Cannonball Adderley's "Sack 'o Woe" use aggressive piano comping and locked in bass and drums to create a nice pocket for Smith to fill with a solid meaty solo. Campbell's guitar adds a very nice touch when the band plays the blues, deep down in the alley stuff like B.B. King's "My Baby's Gone" and Robert Johnson's "From Four 'Til Late." Slower material works pretty well too, Wayne Shorter's moody "Footprints" tends to drift a bit, but Charles Mingus' "Nostalgia in Times Square" develops nicely. I think that this album worked well, and will surprise listeners are willing to give it a chance. It takes a little while to adjust to the tone of the bassoon, but applying it to this selection of classic jazz material was successful. Hopefully Smith will get a chance to produce a sequel that focuses on original compositions.
Blue Bassoon - amazon.com
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