Daniel Smith Be Bop Bassoon at NIGHT & DAY
Monday, September 1st
two sets 9PM and 10:30PM
cover charge $10
Night and Day
230 5th Ave. (@ President St.)
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Daniel Smith - Bassoon
MAMIKO WATANABE - PIANO
MICHAEL O"BRIEN - BASS
Phil Macurano - DRUMS
Celebrating the release of his new CD Daniel Smith/Bebop Bassoon/Zah Zah ZZCD9820 (St. Date June 1, 2006)
On BeBop Bassoon, Daniel Smith introduces the jazz world to his unique sound on the first ever compact disc recording of straight ahead bop classics on the deep voiced horn. The most recorded bassoon soloist in the history of music, Smith has spent a lifetime bringing his challenging instrument to the fore - stretching the boundaries of the bassoon's repertoire beyond classical and into ragtime, jazz and contemporary music on recordings like Bassoon Bon Bons, Bravo Bassoon and The Swinging Bassoon, along with performances of crossover works such as Steve Gray's Jazz Suite for Bassoon and Orchestra, Gunther Schuller's Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra (YES, CONTRABASSOON!) and the late Robert Farnon's last composition, Romancing the Phoenix," a concerto for solo bassoon with rhythm section and full symphony orchestra written specifically with Smith in mind.
In the traditional European classical music idiom, Smith's unprecedented historic recordings of the complete 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos was selected by the Music Industry Association as Best Concerto Recording of the Year and chosen for inclusion in The Penguin Guide To Compact Discs. The critically acclaimed set has become a continual best seller with the Musical Heritage Society.
A virtuoso soloist, Smith has assembled an equally talented rhythm section to accompany him on his journey into bebop and beyond. Pianist Martin Bejerano and bassist John Sullivan are best known as one half of the legendary Roy Haynes quartet, while drummer Ludwig Afonso is widely recognized for his impressive work with the innovative fusion group Spyro Gyra. Smith proves himself to be very much at home in a jazz quartet - his earliest musical influences were Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker when he played clarinet, saxophone and flute before settling on the bassoon. The ease with which he expresses himself in the jazz setting on the difficult horn promises to do for the instrument what Eric Dolphy did for the bass clarinet and Howard Johnson has accomplished on tuba - bringing its expressive voice to a wider appreciative audience.
The disc opens with Benny Golson's Killer Joe," a sixties jazz classic later introduced into the popular music canon by Quincy Jones. The trio opens with the immediately recognizably vamp before Smith enters playing the familiar melody with a soulful assurance equal to that of a saxophonist who has been performing the song his whole life. The deep vocal sound of the bassoon is well suited for the lyrical line, but it is in his creatively constructed solo that Smith demonstrates just how eminently qualified he is to bring his instrument into this heretofore virtually unexplored musical environment.
Charlie Parker's Anthropology" is a difficult to execute progression for even the fleetest of saxophonists, making Smith's flawless articulation of the melody in unison with bassist Sullivan all the more impressive. The bassoonist's interpolation of a melodic fragment from the Mile Davis original Milestones" into his swinging improvisation demonstrates an admirable awareness of the bebop repertoire.
On Blue Monk" Smith demonstrates the emotionally expressive range of the bassoon, bending and smearing notes in his performance of the requisite blues with a communicative passion that makes the listener focus on what he is playing without any concern for the fact that he is doing so on an instrument not usually heard in this context.
Horace Silver's Sister Sadie" is a hard bop classic with a memorable melody that Smith delivers with funky facility despite its inclusion of some intricate passages that can pose technical difficulties for even the best jazz instrumentalists. The bassoonist's sound is especially compelling on his solo here, at times recalling the emotional cry" of Coltrane influenced saxophonists.
Smith plays Ellington's In A Sentimental Mood" with a sensitivity that sincerely conveys the composer's melancholy message without resorting to mawkish emotionalism. The bassoonist's legato phrasing of the melody often recalls the beautiful sound of a cello, while the piece's more staccato passages have the sensibility of some of the best of the Duke's trombonists and clarinetists.
The Miles Davis classic All Blues" features Smith blowing with inspired abandon over John Sullivan's lush walking bass, once again demonstrating his uncanny ability to coax a variety of sounds and feelings from his horn.
Doxy," a puckish original by the great Sonny Rollins, seems a particularly appropriate selection for the date. The bassoon sounds more than a little like Rollins' saxophone in places and at times even resembles the tenor titan's distinctive speaking voice a bit. Smith swings the song mightily, playing with a deceptive ease that belies the difficult demands of his instrument.
On Up Against The Wall" Smith demonstrates an affinity for more modernist sounds, playing the rarely performed John Coltrane composition with an expansive bass and drum accompaniment (sans piano) that opens up a tonal freedom for the bassoon that serves the music well.
Dizzy Gillespie's Birk's Works" is a medium tempo minor key boppish blues on which Smith shares the solo spotlight with Bejerano and Sullivan, the young sidemen playing with a maturity that inspires the bassoonist to turn in an impressive improvisation of his own.
The closing Sticky Wicket" is a seldom heard Dexter Gordon original from the sixties that Smith swings straight ahead with remarkable range, once again demonstrating the bassoon's suitability for playing music previously performed predominantly by saxophones.
For Daniel Smith it doesn't matter what instrument you're playing or what idiom you're playing in -- what is important is the feeling and an ability to communicate with an audience. During his illustrious career Smith has done more than any other musician to champion the bassoon in classical music and bring its sound to a wider audience. On BeBop Bassoon he takes his mission a giant step further and ushers his unique sound into the world of modern jazz. With a talent as great as his, it is most assuredly a sound listener's will be hearing a lot more of in the future.