Daniel Smith: Bassoon Reaching New Places
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.
AAJ: 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.
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)
Courtesy of Daniel Smith