Daniel Smith – The Swingin’ Bassoon – Zah Zah/Guild

by | Jul 23, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Daniel Smith – The Swingin’ Bassoon – Zah Zah/Guild [Distr. by Albany] ZZCD 9824, 49:57 ****:

(Daniel Smith, bassoon; Martin Bejerario, piano; John Sullivan, bass; Ludwig Afonso, drums)

Coming into jazz originally from a classical background, this CD caught my eye right away.  I’ve always leaned toward jazz played on some of those instruments of the symphony which are not regarded as central to jazz expression – violin, French horn, cello, oboe.  Well, the bassoon is only a rung down from the oboe, and is probably one of the most difficult wind instruments to play (along with the French horn). This is not the first time the lengthy fellow from the woodwinds has been called upon to swing, but there hasn’t been much of that chamber jazz sort of thing lately, so this disc is most welcome as far as I’m concerned.

Zah Zah is an Arabic word used to describe something that shines brightly; it can also refer to something very good.  This is a new sub-label of the Swiss label Guild and I’m ready to call it very good.  Bassoonist Smith allows that the classical performer has to get rid of all preconceived notions about how to play the instrument if one wants to make jazz swing with it. It’s probably a similar challenge on the French horn. Smith’s quartet is set up just like a typical jazz quartet featuring tenor sax, but the sound is worlds different.

The tunes with a bit of the humor that jazz delivers so well seem to come off the best. Monk’s Well You Needn’t is perfect for the instrument, and will bring a smile to any jazz fan for sure. The arrangement is quite intriguiging with a workout for the bassoon not that different from some Vivaldi concerto. (Vivaldi Meets Monk – now there’s an interesting idea…Smith recorded all 37 Vivaldi concertos for the ASV label, by the way.) Others tracks in similar lighter vein are Summer Samba, Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas, and Dizzy’s A Night in Tunisia, which closes out the 11 tracks.  Scrapple from the Apple starts with quite a feat – Smith copying note for note Charlie Parker’s own sax solo!  Great fun all ’round.

TrackList: I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Well You Needn’t, Hay Bruner, Scrapple from the Apple, Mood Indigo, Summer Samba, Out of Nowhere, st. Thomas, I Remember You, Home At Last, A Night in Tunisia.

 – John Sunier


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