196

Jason Smith: Tipping Point

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jason Smith: Tipping Point Jason Smith's Think Like This (Alternity, 2005) was an unexpected debut from a drummer with greater credibility as a pop and rock session player. Teamed with keyboardist Gary Husband and bassist Dave Carpenter, that disc demonstrated that there can often be a considerable gap between how one makes a living and the direction chosen when given the artistic freedom to do so.

Tipping Point captures the same trio in a 2006 performance at Los Angeles' The Jazz Bakery. With Husband living in the UK, this trio may not get together on a regular basis, but it's clear that when they do there's an immediate chemistry. It suggests a trio who, comfortable with a diversity of styles in and out of the jazz sphere, has the imagination to take even the most familiar material and massage it into new forms.

The group reprises two tunes from Think Like This, but stretches them out even further. Husband innovatively reharmonizes "The Way You Look Tonight so significantly that, with the exception of a couple of signposts, the standard is nearly unrecognizable. The keyboardist's own, more complex "Three Lies provides everyone the opportunity to explore a spectrum that includes abstract impressionism, unassailable swing and near-fusion level funk. Jimmy Webb's normally buoyant "Up Up and Away is reinvented as a tender ballad.

Smith continues to mine the repertoires of two influential artists. The inherent melodism of Keith Jarrett's "Star Bright is retained, but by morphing a solo piano improvisation into a trio piece there's the opportunity for democratic dialogue. Kenny Wheeler's "Heyoke never loses site of its composer's melancholy lyricism, but takes surprising rhythmic liberties, as the rhythm section seems to ebb and flow beneath Husband's lengthy solo, where the interaction is at such a subconscious level that it's more often felt than heard.

Husband, perhaps best-known as the drummer for artists including Allan Holdsworth and Level 42, isn't the only percussionist with strong piano skills, but by evolving a parallel and equally important career as a keyboardist, he's certainly a rarity. Appearing in both capacities on guitar icon John McLaughlin's Industrial Zen (Verve, 2006) and gearing up for the guitarist's first fusion tour of North America in over twenty years, it should come as no surprise that this trio tackles McLaughlin's altered blues, "Follow Your Heart. But far from the free-bop elasticity of the original version on McLaughlin's Extrapolation (Polydor, 1969), Smith's funky backbeat and Carpenter's visceral anchor supporting Husband's Rhodes solo prove it's possible to groove organically in 11/8.

Like Think Like This, Tipping Point stretches boundaries rather than breaking them. Nor does Smith's trio doesn't have a singular, pigeon-holing concept like The Bad Plus. Instead, it's about honesty, open-mindedness, strong material and broad-scoped playing that stands on its own without resorting to devices that ultimately time-stamp a group. With an approach that's timeless without sacrificing modernity, one can only hope that Smith's trio is here to stay.


Track Listing: Caroles Garden; Way You Look Tonight; Follow Your Heart; Star Bright; Heyoke; Three Lies; Up Up and Away.

Personnel: Jason Smith: drums; Gary Husband: piano, Fender Rhodes; Dave Carpenter: bass.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Moonjune Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Tipico" CD/LP/Track Review Tipico
by James Nadal
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Elevenses" CD/LP/Track Review Elevenses
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 5, 2016
Read "Cómo Desaparecer Completamente (How to Disappear Completely)" CD/LP/Track Review Cómo Desaparecer Completamente (How to Disappear Completely)
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!