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Daniel Smith: Bassoon Reaching New Places

By Published: February 5, 2008

All of a sudden, a sort of miracle happened! Ideas started to flow and my fingers simply executed what I was hearing in my head

Daniel SmithThe bassoon is an instrument that isn't a total stranger to jazz. Some have doubled on bassoon at times, but even that isn't often. Others have incorporated it into their compositions and arrangements. (See Michael Rabinowitz tear it up as part of the Mingus Orchestra some time). But it's reaching new places and new audiences with the "arrival," as it were, of Daniel Smith, a Brooklyn-born musician who reached acclaim with the instrument in the classical world and is taking it strongly into jazz.



He says, in spite of the accolades he received as a classical musician, learning the intricacies of jazz (an arduous task, he admits), he now enjoys its challenges and its potential more than he does the classical side.



"For me," he says, "it is jazz and improvisation that I find much more rewarding. There is simply no limit as to how high your skills can take you with constant improvement via a lot of hard work and focus. And you are always caught by surprise with new ideas which suddenly pop out and catch you by surprise."



His playing in jazz is still developing, he says, but progress can be seen in the growing audiences for his gigs in the U.S. and Europe that are enjoying the music of his jazz quartet, and can be measured in a pair of recordings Bebop Bassoon (2006) and Swingin' Bassoon (2007) on the Zah Zah label that, between them, cover a wide variety of standards and styles, from Miles and Monk to Basie, Duke, Bird, Dizzy and more. With him is his trio of Martin Bejerano on piano, John Sullivan on bass and Ludwig Afonso on drums. The disks have gotten some attention. Both "are heard world-wide in many countries stretching from North to South America, all of Europe, Asia and as far as Moscow," he says.



His long-appreciated classical work also goes strong. In 2005, composer/arranger Robert Farnon dedicated his final composition to Smith. "Romancing the Phoenix" is a three-movement bassoon concerto for solo amplified bassoon with rhythm section and full symphony orchestra in a jazz-oriented style crossed with symphonic. Warner Chappell recently published the score and parts with Robert Farnon's dedication to "The American virtuoso Daniel Smith" on the title page.



"Robert Farnon was a legendary figure in the world of arranging, orchestration and composing. This bassoon concerto was his very last composition before his untimely death in early 2005. His third symphony was set to be premiered in Edmonton, Canada, and Edinburgh, Scotland, that year. After these premieres, the plan was to follow with premieres of the bassoon concerto, which Farnon himself was going to arrange. His idea was to have a number of premieres worldwide including with Andre Previn in Oslo, the Royal Philharmonic and the Proms in the UK, orchestras in Canada, the USA," says Smith.



He says it appears that a United Kingdom world premiere will be held in 2009, "with two orchestras combining forces ... there will be extensive publicity worldwide about the premiere, followed by what we hope will be premieres in the USA, Canada and throughout Europe." His performances have included other firsts: The American West Coast premiere Gunther Schuller's "Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra," the world premiere of Steve Gray's "Jazz Suite For Bassoon," with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra and solo concerts at New York's Lincoln Center and the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, among other prestigious dates.



The achievements are significant. But perhaps even more so in light of the fact that Smith's interest in music wasn't appreciated by his parents. It was stifled. But his interest and talent still rose to the fore. The persistence required to overcome that obstacle served him well. It extended into a keen focus on learning music and various instruments that have vaulted him into a successful and decorated career.



Being pushed away from music caused him to actually forge toward it, he contends. And hearing Benny Goodman as a teenager perhaps cinched his life's direction.



There were "pressures put on me to conform and do something 'normal,' like being an accountant, teacher, dentist, post office worker, whatever. I was a very different sort of child and no one in my family knew what to make of me. My mother was determined to stop me in my tracks when I took up clarinet lessons and took me for an aptitude test," he says. "I did, in fact, score highest for accountancy, but the second highest score was music. My mother felt she was now vindicated and said to the examiner, 'So you do agree that he should be an accountant.' To which the examiner said, 'Well no. He really should be a musician.' Having had a discussion beforehand with him, he gave his professional opinion to my mother with the 'wrong' answer of music—so I was now damned for life."

Daniel SmithSmith was sixteen year old when he saw a New Year's Eve special with the original Benny Goodman trio re-united (Goodman, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa) on TV. "I was totally mesmerized by the music and felt a powerful urge there and then to learn the instrument that Benny Goodman was playing. I went to a local music store and said I wanted to learn how to play the trumpet. The owner asked me why. I told him I saw a Mr. Goodman playing it on TV. The owner asked: what did his trumpet look like? I said it was long and black, and was then told it was a clarinet and not a trumpet. So much for musical sophistication in my background."



He jumped into music, still with opposition on the home front. "My father was horrified when I went to enroll at the Manhattan School of Music and claimed that my sax teacher—Bill Sheiner, the same teacher who taught Stan Getz one generation earlier—was deliberately trying to ruin my life. One night when practicing in our basement, my father physically dragged me upstairs to look at the TV. On the screen was Elvis Presley jumping around while doing one of his hit tunes. My father yelled, ˜That's a real musician, he makes lots of money.' So much for culture in my upbringing."



"It is interesting how much of the world's cultures value the arts while here in the USA, so much of the population is devoted to making money and materialism," Smith notes. "I have lived in Europe off and on for over twenty years and see very clearly the different values in European societies in regard to having a career in the arts. Hardly anyone thinks you are strange or asks how much money you make or what do you really do for a living. It is an important part of the values and priorities within many societies and artists are well respected and often well compensated for their achievements."



Smith took up extensive musical training on many instruments. He started clarinet at sixteen, then added the saxophone a year later. He took up flute lessons the next year, entered the Manhattan School of Music as a clarinet major, switched in his second year to being a flute major, eventually earning three degrees there. "I studied each and every instrument quite seriously and had some of the best teachers on each of them," he says, including Bill Sheiner, Eddie Meyers and Joe Allard on sax; Bill Sheiner and Leon Russianoff on clarinet; Harold Bennett, John Wummer and Francis Blaisdell on flute; William Polisi, Harold Goltzer, Sherman Walt, Lenny Hindell and Bernie Garfield on bassoon; and Bert Bial and Richard Plaster on contrabassoon.



He even studied the violin, piano and oboe for short periods. He honed skills in all kinds of musical situations on various instruments, show bands and Latin bands, concert bands, Broadway bands, symphony orchestras and more. Once he took up the bassoon, he played a season with the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras as a substitute or extra player, two seasons with the New Jersey Symphony, The National Ballet orchestra on tour, four seasons on fellowship with the National Orchestral Society, a fellowship at Tanglewood, The New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony, and quite a few other orchestras as a free-lance bassoonist or contrabassoonist.



"But everything came very late in life for me in regard to learning music and playing various instruments, especially the bassoon," says Smith.



His teachers and the classical repertoire he heard on recordings or played as a member of various orchestras were his musical influences in the classical realm. "Then once I started to record, the bassoon concertos and music of such as Vivaldi, Gordon Jacob, Elgar, Bach, as well as pieces on bassoon adapted from the music of Scott Joplin, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Mozart, and countless others. And last but not least, several well-known bassoon soloists from various countries."



As for jazz, a friend introduced him to those sounds during his high school days in the Bronx. He heard the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie on Dial and other labels. He went to hear jazz at Birdland and other clubs, using a fake draft card to get in.



"I was first in line at Birdland, and for $1.80, purchased a ticket and sat in the peanut gallery right next to the piano. There I heard so many of the jazz greats. Count Basie's band many times, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Cannonball, Coltrane, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan and so many others. This was just about the time I was learning the clarinet, so from my teens onwards, I was not a stranger to jazz," he says.

Daniel Smith

Smith's early jazz idols included Getz, Parker, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Miles, the Basie, Ellington, Woody Herman and other bands, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley and Mulligan. Even when he began to focus on an instrument not associated with jazz, he was undeterred.



For whatever reason, once I got the 'bug,' I never doubted I could do it," says Smith. "But I instinctively knew from the start it would not be easy and with no short cuts, given the difficulties of the bassoon. All my already achieved skills as a virtuoso in classical music were of no help whatsoever when I started to plunge into jazz and improvising. It was only after three or four years of mastering all the jazz scales and chords and learning in stages how to improvise that the technique I already had from before clicked in and joined up with my newly learned jazz skills."



Smith puts Charlie Parker on par with Mozart's musical genius. "Talent and genius are often attained via sheer hard work and dedication, and the same jazz talent might very well have been a fine composer of classical music and vice versa," he says. Which genre is more difficult? Smith doesn't hesitate.



He says it is "several times more difficult to pull off convincing jazz. For instance, the saxophone jumps the octave with a single key and the fingerings mostly stay the same, except for the very top and bottom notes. The clarinet has a register key which makes a jump of a twelfth—again the fingerings remain mostly the same other than being different pitches. With the flute, you jump the octave with the use of the lip while using many of the same fingerings.



"The bassoon is a bit more than a three octave instrument. Once you move upward from the middle-low register, you have multiple problems to deal with. This includes completely different fingerings for many notes in the upper registers, extreme care with diaphragm and breath control to get the higher pitches in tune and passages which require extreme dexterity. Examples range from many of the Vivaldi bassoon concertos, up-tempo pieces of Charlie Parker and Dizzy, and the release of Thelonious Monk's 'Well You Needn't' with its fast-moving, descending chromatic seventh chords. Not for the faint hearted."



Smith's years of study have paid off. But there's more to learn; he best yet to come.



"I just did a concert in England at the Thame Concert Jazz Club with the Jonathan Gee trio filling out my 'Bassoon and Beyond' jazz quartet with wonderful piano, bass and drum accompaniment," he says in December of 2007. "This trio performed many times at Ronnie Scotts in London with the likes of Joe Lovano and Benny Golson, so it was important that I do my best with them. I came well-prepared and was able to do the entire concert from memory with no music stand on stage and never missed a note. My solos were light years beyond my jazz album solos and the evening just got better and better. I attribute this to a lot of hard work, and by leaving nothing to chance in preparing for this concert. The lesson here is that one can attain higher and higher levels in jazz and continually improving with hard work and dedication.

Daniel Smith

"As for the actual art of improvising, I find it fascinating and a constant source of amazement to me. I really don't have a clue as to how my fingers go down on the correct keys to execute a musical idea which I am hearing in my head many measures before actually playing it," Smith says. "I know that every time I pick up the instrument, something different and better will come out than the previous day and I can count on this happening whether practicing or on stage at a live performance."



His continued wok in jazz appears to take on excitement for this well-studied, accomplished instrumentalist on the cusp of coming into his own.



"There is never a day when I pick up the bassoon and fail to improvise better than the previous day. In fact, were I to redo my jazz albums today, you would hear my improvised solos played on a much higher level. But, as every musician knows, one can only do their very best at any given time, and if the process of improving is a constant quest, then you would expect to be doing improvisations vastly improved, different, and more original as time goes by. As for the public awareness of jazz bassoon, I would bet that in the next year or two it will be accepted widely and viewed as yet another instrument which has a future and a following in jazz," he says.



The following is an edited exchange between Smith and All About Jazz on his jazz recordings, his feelings about the bassoon, which is known for its warm, dark timbre, and other musical topics.

All About Jazz: How did you go about selecting tunes for Bebop Bassoon and The Swingin' Bassoon? Was it favorite songs, or a type of feeling you wanted to express? It almost seems that you guys had so much material, and fun, that you extended it into two discs.

Daniel Smith: It was a somewhat mutual effort. I first met alone with pianist Martin Bejerano. We ran through quite a few pieces and saw which ones seemed to work best. Next came three days of rehearsals at a studio with the full quartet. Again, we discarded pieces which did not work and focused on those that seemed to come together nicely. By the time we arrived at the recording studio, we had twenty-one pieces in all and started to tape them over a period of three days. Halfway through the recording sessions, I was starting to feel a bit insecure about the tapings and suggested we abandon ten or so of the pieces and concentrate on just enough for one album. Martin Bejerano spoke to me and urged me to keep with the original plan and record everything we had prepared and go for two albums from the sessions. Fortunately, I took his [suggestion]. And yes, it was fun recording this music and quite challenging.

Daniel SmithAAJ: How do you feel about the band and how they jelled and sounded with you?

DS: Martin Bejerano and John Sullivan were members of Roy Haynes' band and Ludwig Afonso went on the road with Spyro Gyra after we did the sessions, so I was indeed in some very good company. Besides being a great jazz pianist, Martin was able to help me put together interesting and appealing approaches to each musical selection. John Sullivan was a Rock of Gibraltar with his solid bass lines and Ludwig Afonso a very creative and tasteful drummer. I have had discussions already with Martin about future jazz projects and would like to use these same players for future albums.

AAJ: What led to the bassoon?

DS: It was a period late in the Vietnam war era and the draft was still in effect. I had just graduated Columbia University and was newly married. Harold Bennett, my flute teacher at the time, informed me that there would soon be a flute/piccolo opening in the West Point Band where a former student of his was about to finish his military service in the Army's special services and would keep me out of Vietnam with a three-year enlistment. I auditioned and was appointed solo piccolo and flute with the band.



While in the military, my wife became pregnant and we had our first child. I was concerned that upon being discharged from the military, I would need to make a living to support my family. The idea thus came to me of learning the bassoon so as to be a doubler, which would enable me to get into Broadway show bands and studio work after returning to civilian life. And so I started lessons at age twenty-five with one of the band's bassoonists, Christopher Weait. One thing led to another, but it would still be some years before I started to work my way toward being a soloist on the instrument.

AAJ: What is it about the instrument that attracted you, still attracts you?

DS: I hoped it would enable me to make a living doing studio and show work. Then came the sheer challenge of playing the instrument. The bassoon is one of those instruments, along the violin, cello and others, that are considered ten-year instruments, meaning roughly this length of time to become a complete master or virtuoso. I really enjoyed the step-by-step progress I was making and found it much more rewarding than any of the other instruments I had mastered.

AAJ: How important is the sound you get and how do you strive for that?

DS: Apparently quite important from all the reviews and feedback I have received over the years. First with classical and crossover recordings and performances, and now in an even bigger and more important way with jazz bassoon. I would imagine that having played the flute, clarinet, saxophone, and perhaps a bit of violin, I combined together everything. I incorporate various sound concepts from all these other instruments and added them to my traditional bassoon conservatory/classical training.



I don't have a clue why my sound is what it is. Nearly all the reviews for my recordings, whether classical, jazz, or crossover, are quite outstanding, and for the negative remaining, they simply do not like what I do—whether classical or jazz. As for live performances, I always get wonderful audience reaction and write-ups, so I must be doing something right.

AAJ: Was it easier for acceptance of the bassoon in the classical world?

DS: Probably, yes. I stepped into the role of a classical bassoon soloist in stages, first doing some concertos with semi-professional orchestras, then onto more established ones, concertos with orchestras in Europe, then making my first two concerto albums using members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera orchestras, then a big leap upward with five concerto albums with the English Chamber Orchestra, three others with the Zagreb Soloists, crossover albums with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Caraveggio Ensemble, a recital album with Roger Vignoles, an album of music for Bassoon and String Quartet with England's Coull Quartet, etc.



So by the time I got into jazz, all this was already in place and I guess you could say I was considered a virtuoso by many. Several of my classical albums have won awards along the way. My five-CD set of the complete Vivaldi bassoon concertos is a best seller with the Musical Heritage Society and won an award as Best Concerto Album of the Year, my two crossover albums were a first in this area, and there were several other pioneering achievements on the instrument before moving on to jazz albums.

Daniel SmithAAJ: What kind of reactions did you get when you started carrying it over into jazz?

DS: The main reason I got into jazz was due to a piece of music entitled "Jazz Suite for Bassoon and Orchestra," written for me by the English composer and pianist Steve Gray, then a member of the pop-rock group Sky, led by guitarist John Williams. Steve included improvisation spots in the movements, which I worked up and then wrote out. But by doing this, I had seriously caught the jazz bug and decided then and there that I wanted to do it right from that point on. I proceeded to set myself a long-range goal to master the idiom of improvisation and jazz on the bassoon. It was not easy at first, but I just kept plugging away. I worked hard over the next years with many hours of concentrated practice to learn and master this very difficult craft on an instrument several times harder than saxophone and many other instruments.



I learned all the jazz scales and chords in every key and from bottom to top of the bassoon while using a metronome to increase the speeds gradually. Next came multiple patterns using these scales and chords. I then purchased some Jamey Aebersold CDs and learned to place the scales and chords in the right places above the piano, bass and drums, and to learn to hear the chord quality and where the progressions were going.



Then came primitive attempts at improvising. They probably sounded awful and I invited people to hear what I was doing while playing along with the Aebersold tracks. Everyone was very polite and supportive saying that I sounded great, but I seriously doubt they were being truthful. Due to the extreme strain of trying to force musical ideas using very different sort of scales, chords along with a technique quite different from classical music, my right arm started to get very sore and stiff. I eventually reached the point of believing my arm would be permanently damaged from all this.



All of a sudden, a sort of miracle happened! Ideas started to flow and my fingers simply executed what I was hearing in my head. The problem with my arm went away and never came back, while my playing of jazz got easier and smoother as time went by. The next step was to start performing live in a jazz quartet setting at private parties, jazz clubs, music clubs, music festivals, etc. These were mostly in the UK, where I was living at the time. By trial and error, I started to understand what was required to play convincing jazz on the bassoon and went through many learning plateaus and various shifts upward in regard to reaching higher and more creative levels of improvising...and feeling more and more confident along the way.



As for "acceptance" of the instrument playing jazz, this happened immediately with audiences who heard me in live settings. However, early on, a well-known British bassoonist who knew me, said that it would be "dangerous for my career" if I played jazz in the UK. In hindsight, I now understand what he was hinting at. To this very day, there are classically trained bassoonists who focus on the accuracy of pitches and zero in on my bending of notes when I play jazz. I do this on purpose as any jazz saxophonist would do, to capture the essence of a phrase within a melody or an improvised solo, otherwise the music would be stiff, formal, and not swing. For better or worse, I suspect such players may never get it. If I did not do this while performing jazz on the bassoon, and as Duke Ellington said, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing," the music would be "correct" and perfectly in tune, but would come across as dull and uninteresting.

Daniel SmithAAJ: What do you like about improvisation, that is stressed more in jazz? What attracts you to jazz?

DS: When I do a recital for instance, I might be playing a particular piece by Edward Elgar or Mozart which I have performed dozens and dozens of times over the years. How much more can I add on to the music? As Wynton Marsalis once said: in classical music you are a re-creator, in jazz you are a creator. I recorded several albums in London with the English Chamber Orchestra around the same time Marsalis was recording his classical albums with the same orchestra. I saw how he made the jump back and forth from classical to jazz and vice versa, so I knew the field was wide open for someone to do this on bassoon.



As for the actual art of improvising, I find it fascinating and a constant source of amazement to me. I really don't have a clue as to how my fingers go down on the correct keys to execute a musical idea which I am hearing in my head many measures before actually playing it. I am currently in touch with Oliver Sacks who is publicizing his new book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (Knopf, 2007). I hope to discuss with him how the mind works in the art of improvising. Maybe I will understand how this happens. Maybe not. Meanwhile, I know that every time I pick up the instrument, something different and better will come out than the previous day and I can count on this happening whether practicing or on stage at a live performance.



[According to Smith, Sacks plans to start work on a follow-up book with his discussions with the author included.]

AAJ: Are there still some prejudices about the instrument in jazz? Or some snickers when you tell people?

DS: Very little if any at all. Other than those classically trained bassoonists who basically don't get it and are shocked by the bending and sliding of pitches within jazz phrases, everyone has gone for it in a very big way—critics, jazz disc jockeys and audiences everywhere. The only reference to a "snicker" actually was in a recent review of my last jazz album, The Swingin' Bassoon. The reviewer did anticipate it would be something strange to hear and made a remark that at first he thought he read "The Swingin' Baboon" on the CD title. He then went on to praise the album in the highest terms with some wonderful comments about my playing and the ensemble.

AAJ: How do you feel it's been accepted so far, with your proliferation of recordings and appearances?

DS: Beyond my wildest dreams. "Killer Joe," from Bebop Bassoon, is now the sixth ranked all-time download with All About Jazz and had over 10,000 downloads in 2006 alone. Both this album and The Swingin' Bassoon are heard world-wide in many countries stretching from North to South America, all of Europe, Asia and as far as Moscow. Many of these countries are where I have agents representing me and where we expect many engagements at festivals, jazz clubs and concert series from 2008 onwards. Quite a few are now being arranged and with further queries coming in from presenters about having me on their series.

Daniel SmithAAJ: Do you see yourself as a pioneer on the instrument?

DS: I would suppose so. I seem to be all over the Internet, heard on In-flight with many airlines, on classical and jazz radio, there are quite a few interviews and articles on my career in the media, and I am frequently contacted by bassoonists from many countries who know of me. It would be naive to think that everyone would admire or like what I do ... I just keep trying to improve my skills and if someone does not like what I am doing, that's fine with me, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

AAJ: How do you go from classical to jazz...back and forth...with such apparent ease?

DS: I have to wear two hats, as the expression goes. This takes place not only in the way I change styles and approaches in both genres, but also in concerts where I have to perform and cover both classical and jazz. The first half of these split classical/jazz concerts features acoustical bassoon with piano in a recital format. After the interval, I am joined on stage by a jazz rhythm section of piano, bass and drums. Sometimes I have a pianist who can cover both classical to jazz, other times I use two different pianists—a classical accompanist for the first half and then a jazz trio with its own pianist for the second half. I also switch from acoustical bassoon for the classical part to an amplified bassoon for the jazz segment. Keeps you on your toes.

AAJ: Is there a different mind set for each?

DS: Yes, and in the case of jazz, throwing all caution to the wind. If you bend notes to get an effect in a jazz phrase, the purists might say you are out of tune. The jazz listener or critic might say the opposite—that you did not bend the notes enough in comparison to what a saxophonist does. By trial and error and instinct, you eventually know just how much you want to bend a pitch, throw in a glissando, maybe make a pitch move up or down as you hold it to get an effect, as well as many other things you discover along the way to make a particular jazz tune come to life on the bassoon.

AAJ: Do you have a rigorous practice regimen, or are you playing so much that it's not always necessary?

DS: When I am preparing for a specific jazz performance, I practice a solid two-and-a-half to three hours each and every day leading up to the event. When there is nothing coming up on the horizon insofar as a jazz performance, I then need to devote a lot of time working on career matters which need to be attended to as things move forward. This includes preparing various new items in print with my art design person, upgrading my website with my webmaster, answering correspondence, sending to my various agents in many countries current news, reviews and information to help their promotion. And of course the behind- the-scenes work loosely known as "politics" to help achieve recording deals, bookings, publicity, etc.



It now looks like that by mid-2008, my efforts and those of my various agents will reach a state of automatic pilot, whereby they mainly will be dealing with enquires to book me and working up contracts for confirmed engagements. And then hopefully my responsibility would just be to keep a daily practice routine and keep moving upward with my jazz skills and leave much of this other work to others.

AAJ: Are you still faced with convincing people that the bassoon and your bands are not "gimmicky," but serious music that people will enjoy?

DS: Once I get onto a stage, and from the first notes, there is no doubt in anyone's mind in the audience that this is real jazz they are hearing and nothing gimmicky. And yes, they do enjoy it a lot as you can see from the reviews on my website.

Daniel SmithAAJ: What is the public reaction at gigs, to seeing this instrument that may be different to them, but then they see it played so well?

DS: Some years ago, after receiving a not-so-great review for one of my classical recitals, I felt a bit down afterwards. My accompanist, Jonathan Still, was friends with a well-known London ballet-master. He mentioned to this ballet master the negative comments in the review. The ballet master then replied, "Just remember, the eyes never lie" and wanted to know how the audience reacted to the performance. He was told that from the stage, we had seen nothing but smiling faces, smiling eyes, lots of applause, and a well-received encore piece, to which the ballet master said he was sure we did a fine performance since "the eyes never lie."



I now know, from experience, that the audience is always on target and the occasional negative comment or review is to be taken with a grain of salt, with classical, and now in my jazz concerts. The eyes never lie, and I know with certainty when an audience appreciated and enjoyed a particular performance and that I gave them my very best.

AAJ: How are things proceeding on the jazz front?

DS: I am very optimistic for many reasons. My own playing, which is continually getting better on a daily basis, the effectiveness of the various agents representing me worldwide, and last but not least, the appeal for listeners and audiences coupled with media angles for something new insofar as jazz bassoon. So far it has all been extremely positive and I am confident it will only keep expanding and moving in a very good direction.

AAJ: What about future projects?

DS: There will be quite a few. I already mentioned a recent meeting with pianist Martin Bejerano in which we discussed specific repertoire and titles for future jazz albums. This would include albums with such titles as Blue Bassoon, a two-volume set of blues pieces in many styles; Big Band Bassoon, an album of musical selections associated with many of the great swing bands; Bassoon Goes Latin, bossa novas, salsa, etc., and Bassoon and Beyond,, an album with more progressive pieces on it.


Selected Discography



Daniel Smith, The Swingin' Bassoon (Zah Zah, 2007)
Daniel Smith, Bebop Bassoon (Zah Zah, 2006)
Daniel Smith, English Music for Bassoon and Piano (ASV, 1996)
Daniel Smith, Bravo Bassoon (ASV, 1993)
Daniel Smith, Vivaldi: The 37 Bassoon Concertos (ASV, 1992)
Daniel Smith, Music for Bassoon and String Quartet (ASV, 1988)



Photo Credit
Courtesy of Daniel Smith



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