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Warren Smith: Old News Borrowed Blues

Lyn Horton By

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Famous for his participation in Max Roach's percussionist band, M'Boom, drummer/vibraphonist Warren Smith has demonstrated with finesse how an approach stimulated by rhythm can become the impetus for larger ensemble music. A program of original compositions from his past, now arranged for brass, bass, guitar and percussion, is recorded for the first time in Old News Borrowed Blues. The album features a wonderful lineup in John Carlson and Cecil Bridgewater (trumpets), Joe Daley (euphonium), Jack Jeffers (bass trombone), Craig Rivers, James Stewart, Andrew Lamb, Douglas Yates and Claire Daly (saxophones), Jaribu Shahid (bass), Yoham "Chiquil" Ortiz (guitar) and percussionists Elusegun Sangofemi, Jose Abreu and Floyd Haber.

Though individual brass instruments occasionally step to the foreground (tenor sax in "Rivers State Suite"; alto, tenor, soprano and baritone sax, trumpet and trombone in "Free Forms 1-4"), the frontline is the percussion. Particularly in the first four cuts, the two instrumental groups establish a pattern of pushing each other through the music. The bass has a pulsating role, but moves in rapid fire pizzicato and firm walking lines in "Free Form 1-4"; guitar peeks through in light pizzicato licks as the remaining tones drop away ("Rivers State Suite," "One More Lick for Harold Vick").

Smith's lively vibraphone solos float above the backdrop of brass and drums, behaving like the main character visiting an ongoing story. "Free Forms 1-4," four of Smith's ten early experiments in improvised music, are all connected; over a sultry sax line at first, Smith's recitation of his poetry, describing love, amidst cacophony and confusion as the model of peace and tolerance, is the coda.

Track Listing: Lock the Toilet Door; Rivers State Suite; The Hungarian Gypsy Song; One More Lick for Harold Vick; Free Forms 1-4.

Personnel: John Carlton: trumpet and flugelhorn; Cecil Bridgewater: trumpet and flugelhorn; Joe Daley: euphonium; Jack Jeffers: bass trombone; Craig Rivers: soprano saxophone; James Stewart: tenor saxophone; Douglas Yates: alto saxophone; Andrew Lamb: tenor saxophone soloist (2); Claire Daly: baritone saxophone; Jaribu Shahid: bass violin; Yoham "Chiqui" Ortiz: guitar; Elusegun Sangofemi: African percussion; Jose Abreu: African percussion; Lloyd Haber: drums, vibraphone and percussion; Warren Smith: drums, vibraphone and percussion.

Title: Old News Borrowed Blues | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ESP Disk

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