The Peter Smith Quartet continues its involvement with Latin jazz on its third album. This time around the artists have pulled in Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk, which gives their vision wider scope. The quartet keeps the music stirring gently, making good use of the guitar and percussion to add the timbre, and the spring, to the groove. But they don’t sacrifice volume and depth either; and if there is no real tension, the harmonic scope of jazz gets enough of its due to make this worthy of attention.
The standards come off well, despite the Latin modulation. Would Monk have twirled, arms akimbo, to the opening sway of “Bye-Ya”? He may well have heeded the beckoning before Smith shifts into an angular trajectory on the tenor though Marcus Chonsky continues to ring in a bright rhythm on percussion. “Blue in Green” opens its hues on the pristine acoustic guitar of Kevin Laliberté, his notes gentle and clean. Smith evokes the imagery further with a slightly breathy tenor that he chomps on for a harder tone along the way. However, they tend to be a tad too respectful towards “Manha de Carnaval”; a little looseness would have helped carry the tune better.
Of the originals, “Carrie” has not only a captivating melody, it flows like a rippling brook on a sunny day and “Perfect Fit" has an effervescence enlivened by Smith on the flute and some solid excursions from Drew Birston on bass, Laliberté completing the weave with some lyrical spells on the guitar.