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Walter Smith has a whole lot going on here. On this programme of originals and standards, the saxophonist's work is often so far advanced from a harmonic standpoint (in particular) that he manages to carve out his own space in the modern mainstream idiom, and that's no mean feat in itself.
He also likes to take his time, and in these days of often hyperactive-sounding soloists, that's more than welcome, too. He's no apostle of technical display for its own sake. This is perhaps best exemplified by his reading of Mingus' "Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love," where he makes every note count while retaining his own deep musical personality. The result shows just why this area of the music continues to offer rewarding listening.
In titling his own compositions, he might have played the enigmatic card with "Wooden Box (Spatula In Three)," where the quartet of Smith, Aaron Parks (keys), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland (drums) simultaneously occupies rarefied musical territory and a space rife with precedents. The musicians' intuitive feel for each other's work also elevates the performance above the norm and emphasises just what a rich musical seam this can be when it's mined properly.
The piano-less reading of Ornette Coleman's "Peace" has the effect of revealing just how singular many of Coleman's early compositions remain. The fact that it's played by a sax/trumpet/bass/drums quartet, all of whose members bring their own musical personalities to bear, is a tribute to the importance of musical character.
Maybe it's inevitable that "promising" is one of the epithets often attached to first recordings. On this occasion, however, the words "casual introduction" are an underselling of the richness of the musicand if indeed this is the precedent for music to come, it's also evidence of richness of musical personality. Here's to the next one accordingly.
Track Listing: Cyclic Episode; Kate Song; Tail Of Benin; Bennyís; Duke Ellingtonís Sound Of Love; Wooden Box (Spatula In Three); Peace; P.O.S.; Blues.
Personnel: Walter Smith III: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet (1,4,7); Lionel
Loueke: guitar, vocals (2,4); Lage Lund: guitar (3); Aaron Parks: piano, Fender Rhodes; Robert
Glasper: Fender Rhodes (2); Reuben Rogers: bass (1,2,4,6,7,9); Vicente Archer: bass (3,5,8);
Eric Harland: drums (1,2,4,6,7,9); Kendrick Scott: drums (3,5,8); Gretchen Parlato: vocals (2);
Matt Kilmer: electronic hand percussion (2).
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach. I fell in love with it. I wondered around until the owner (Pedro Soto) asked if I needed help. He then introduced me to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and the rest is history. I walked out of the store with my first jazz recording: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.