All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

302

Walter Smith III: III

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
While there are many saxophonists warranting greater recognition, Walter Smith III is consistently emerging as an identifiable voice among the masses. He's been making waves, whether performing across the waters in Spain with bassist Paco Charlin; recording in France on drummer Eric Harland's debut, Voyager Live by Night (Space Time, 2010); with trumpeter Christian Scott for 2008's Live at Newport (Concord); or stints with another trumpeter, Terence Blanchard.

Smith's third release further reveals his maturation as a band leader and composer. It is telling the way the release unfolds; unlike the "play as fast and as complex as you can" mantra, Smith takes a more thoughtful and unencumbered approach to encompass an equally cerebral yet rooted music that is realized by longtime comrades and trailblazers that include Harland, Jason Moran, and rising trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire

The first notes to be heard are sinuous, visceral and emotive—Smith's luxurious horn soloing in "Working Title." The motif develops into a controlled swing that's tempered by Harland's lively traps and Joe Sanders' exacting bass walk while Smith counters Akinmusire's steamy horn flight with his own energy. 35 years old at the time of this recording, Moran is the "old man" of the group and brings a unique sensitivity to the touching saxophone duo "Aubade," first heard on pianist's Same Mother (Blue Note, 2006). The set mirrors a group rapport that results in work that is organic as a conversation between old friends, an idea that is fleshed out in Akinmusire's "Henya"—a tranquil yet stirring tune that floats like a feather carried by a gentle breeze.

With a group such as this, there are understandably memorable highlights. Alto saxophonist Logan Richardson lights things up in Smith's "Himorme," an up-tempo piece that appeared on Blanchard's Choices (Blue Note, 2009); a boisterous trio workout with Harland and Sanders in "Highschoolish"; and Smith's bluesy "Moranish," inspired by the saxophonist's work on Moran's 2009 project, "In My Mind," a fiftieth anniversary re-imagining of Thelonious Monk's legendary 1959 Town Hall concert.

III culminates with the quiet confidence of "Goodnight Now." The logic and fire of Smith's release is not found in trailblazing feats or complex ideas, but in the consummate way in which the music is delivered. There's something to be said for the art of simplicity.

Track Listing: Working Title; Capital Wasteland; Highschoolish; Himorme; Aubade; Byus; Henya; Moranish; Goodnight Now.

Personnel: Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone; Eric Harland: drums; Jason Moran: piano; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Joe Sanders: bass; Logan Richardson: alto saxophone.

Title: III | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Criss Cross

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
  • Twio by Roger Farbey
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Twio

Twio

Whirlwind Recordings Ltd
2018

buy
Still Casual

Still Casual

Self Produced
2014

buy
III

III

Criss Cross
2011

buy
Casually Introducing Walter Smith III

Casually Introducing...

Fresh Sound New Talent
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Memories of Maynard CD/LP/Track Review
Memories of Maynard
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Playground CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Don't Blink" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Blink
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Gledalec" CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Agrima" CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Compass" CD/LP/Track Review Compass
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017