Debut recordings can give a deceptively strong impression of a leader, since his or her best hour of material is showcased. Many an artist can't match that initial effort and fall prey to the dreaded sophomore jinx. Drummer Neal Smith has confounded that scenario by releasing his second recording along with his first--and when they are taken together, one is left stunned by a multifaceted drummer who is at home in a variety of milieus. While Swingin' is Believin' was a horn fest of bop and swing, Some of My Favorite Songs Are... has Smith joining bassist Peter Washington and ...read more
Swingin' is Believin' is evidence that Neal Smith is well aware of the Indian proverb A good drummer listens as much as he plays. Not to say that Smith is a wallflower. Au contraire, he has that much-desired talent of solidifying an organized sound while driving the music in interesting directions. Coupled with an obvious connection to pianist Rick Germanson and bassist Michael Hawkins, Smith, pianist Cyrus Chestnut's first-call drummer, has elected to share the spotlight with no less than five hornmen to present a session that swings and bops as well as any in recent memory. ...read more
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