Multi-instrumentalist Warren Smith demonstrated his much-heralded versatility from the very outset of his first set at Minton's (Jun. 13th), sitting behind the legendary club's drum kit to kick off the evening, drafting a young pianist from the audience to join him and bassist Leon Dorsey while waiting for the rest of his band to arrive from an earlier engagement. The trio jammed on a couple of standards prior to Smith's calling up another drummer from the audience so that he could take his place at the vibraphone to swing a version of Milt Jackson's "Bags Groove," the evening's one piece in the spirit of its billing as a Tribute to the MJQ. The appearance of drummer Eli Fountain (himself a flexible vibraphonist-percussionist in the Smith tradition) and pianist Alva Nelson moved the band into a more energized mode with a pulsating reading of "Afro Blue" that began with the former's chanted introduction and was marked by the latter's powerful percussive Tyner-ish chords. Smith's lyrical modality on the vibes here demonstrated his admitted affection for the style of Bobby Hutcherson, although on "In A Sentimental Mood" and "Sonnymoon For Two" the influence of Jackson was equally evident. The addition of the Last Poets' Don Eaton on djembe added to the contemporary flavor of the second set which included lively versions of War's "The World Is A Ghetto" and Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed," proving that there's still plenty of swinging jazz to be mined from the pop and R&B music catalogues.
Recommended New Listening:
* Kevin Hays TrioYou've Got a Friend (Jazz Eyes)
* Ron HortonIt's a Gadget World (ABEAT)
* Tony MalabyPaloma Recio (New World)
* Tim Posgate HornbandBanjo Hockey (Black Hen)
* Alan Sondheim & Myk FreedmanJulu Twine (Porter)
* EJ StricklandIn This Day (Strick Muzik)
David Adler NY@Night Columnist, AllAboutJazz.com
* John HébertByzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12)
* Steve Lehman OctetTravail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi)
* Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth StringsRenegade (Delmark)
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