The bassoon has never been one of jazz' more prominent wind instruments — not in bop, not in swing or Dixieland, not in fusion, not in the avant-garde. In terms of recognition as a jazz instrument, the bassoon has paled in comparison to the tenor sax, the trumpet, the clarinet and even the trombone and the flugelhorn. And for jazz bassoonist Daniel Smith, that's a very good thing, because it means that he has more room for individual expression on Bebop Bassoon. This 2004 date is, in some respects, a very traditional hard bop-oriented outing of the '40s and '50s variety. Smith and his acoustic rhythm section — Martin Bejerano on piano, John Carver Sullivan on bass and Ludwig Afonso on drums — play bop changes in a '40s and '50s-minded fashion, and their choice of material is hardly daring. Charlie Parker's "Anthropology," Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," Sonny Rollins' "Doxy," and Dizzy Gillespie's "Birk's Works" are warhorses that have been beaten to death over the years; in fact, many of the tunes on Bebop Bassoon were warhorses even in 1959. But they aren't warhorses that have a long history of being played on the bassoon — not by any means — and Smith has no problem keeping the intrigue factor high. It isn't as though the bassoon had no history as a jazz instrument before Smith, but it's a limited history, which means that no one is going to hear this CD and say, "Dear God, not another version of "Anthropology" played on the bassoon! Haven't we already been down that road 5000 times?" One hopes that the warhorse element won't be as strong on subsequent Smith projects; bassoon or not, there are plenty of great but lesser-known songs that Smith and other improvisers shouldn't ignore. Nonetheless, this is an enthusiastic, likable effort from the hard-swinging Smith.