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The Swingin' Bassoon

Daniel Smith (bassoon)

GUILD ZZCD9824 [49.57]

 

 

 


Georg BASSMAN (1914-1970)
I'm Getting Sentimental Over You [4.37]
Thelonious MONK (1917-1982)
Well You Needn't [4.06]
Sammy NESTICO (b.1924)
Hay Burner [4.45]
Charlie PARKER (1920-1955)
Scrapple From The Apple [4.28]
Duke ELLINGTON (1899-1974)
Mood Indigo [3.56]
Marcos VALLE (b.1943)
Summer Samba [4.57]
Edward HEYMAN (1907-1981), Johnny GREEN (1908-1989)
Out Of Nowhere [4.29]
Sonny ROLLINS (b.1930)
St. Thomas [3.25]
Johnny MERCER (1909-1976), Victor SCHERTZINGER (1890-1941)
I Remember You [3.39]
Hank MOBLEY (1930-1986)
Home At Last [5.51]
Dizzy GILLESPIE (1917-1973)
A Night In Tunisia [5.12]

Daniel Smith (bassoon)

Martin Bejerano (piano)

John Sullivan (bass)

Ludwig Alfonso (drums)

rec. Acoustic Sound Studios, New York, 4-6 January 2004

 

 
As I have mentioned before in a previous review, Vivaldi 7 Favourite Bassoon Concertos Regis RRC 1277, I am a great admirer of the way that Daniel Smith is promoting the image of the bassoon as a major solo instrument. However his attempts at playing jazz on the bassoon do not succeed.

Georg Bassman's most famous piece is probably 'I'm Getting Sentimental Over You' which was written for the legendary trombonist and band leader Tommy Dorsey. Sadly the bassoon here is unable to reproduce the subtle glissandos of the trombone. Intonation problems are immediately apparent and this is a constant problem throughout the CD. Maybe Smith is trying too hard to reproduce jazz effects and his playing occludes the otherwise excellent playing of Berjerano (piano), Sullivan (bass) and Afonso (drums).

The jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk wrote his jazz standard 'Well You Needn't' in 1944. Monk had a unique improvisational style, full of dissonant harmonies. This is shown in this piece, where the root moves in semitones with alternate F and G-flat chords. This works better than the first track, with Smith displaying a fine technique in the upper register.

Sammy Nestico is a big band composer and arranger, best known for his works written for Count Basie. His piece 'Hay Burner' is well played by Smith who manages a fine improvisation and tries to imitate the glissandi and bending notes produced by big band saxophonists. Maybe he could use even more vibrato here. The track also has a fine piano improvisation by Bejerano.

'Scrapple From The Apple' is a composition by the legendary saxophonist and composer Charles 'Bird' Parker Junior. It is a bebop classic in that Parker bases many of his successful tunes over well known chord changes. 'Scrapple From The Apple' is based over the chord progression of 'Honeysuckle Rose'. Parker's wonderfully clear saxophone sound does not lend itself well to the bassoon which here sounds rather muffled by comparison.

No jazz sampler album would be complete without a recording by the most influential figure in twentieth century jazz: Duke Ellington. Here he is represented by Smith playing the standard 'Mood Indigo' . A nice enough recording but marred once again by poor intonation as also is 'Out Of Nowhere' by Heyman and Green, which is a standard that seems to work well on any instrument.

All credit to Smith in the way he tries all kinds of styles on this CD. Some work better than others. In 'Summer Samba' by the Brazilian composer Marcos Valle, Smith attempts to highlight Latin music in this 1966 Bossa Nova. However the powerful rhythms seem to get lost under a wayward improvisation.

The prolific and long-lived jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins wrote the calypso style piece 'St. Thomas' after Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Undoubtedly the highlight of this track is the superb drum solo by Alfonso.

'I Remember You' is a classic melody by Johnny Mercer with the collaboration of Victor Schertzinger. This is a nice track featuring an excellent bass solo by Sullivan who also appears playing a bowed improvisation on 'Home At Last' by the very underrated Hank Mobley.

The CD ends with the all time bebop classic 'Night In Tunisia' by Dizzy Gillespie, who along with Charlie Parker, was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz. This track works well as an exciting finale to the album.

A brave attempt and all credit to Smith for tackling such a project. Sadly I don't think the bassoon will ever be regarded as a major solo jazz instrument.

An interesting CD for bassoonists and jazz lovers but intonation remains a challenge unmet.

 
Lynda Baker

 



 



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