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Blue Bassoon

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Album Review

Much like Eric Dolphy transformed the bass clarinet from its primary role in providing orchestral color, bassoonist Daniel Smith also seeks to turn his instrument into a legitimate lead voice in a small-group jazz setting. While his reed is a bit more ungainly and challenging to play on a jazz date, that doesn't hamper Smith in the least; in fact, this outing has a very diverse selection of musical styles. Starting off with a funky take of Horace Silver's "The Jody Grind" and following it with Charlie Parker's bop favorite "Billie's Bounce" and the swinging blues "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," Smith's confidence is apparent throughout the sessions. He's equally comfortable venturing into blues territory, adding guitarist Larry Campbell for a strutting take of B.B. King's "My Baby's Gone" and a hilarious take of Robert Johnson's "From Four Till Late," the latter likely to be the most unusual interpretation of the legendary bluesman's composition. While Smith shines in his interpretations of Mingus' "Nostalgia in Times Square" and Wayne Shorter's modal masterpiece"Footprints," he also explores less frequently recorded gems such as George Shearing's "Break Out the Blues" and Lee Morgan's "The Double Up." The rhythm section, led by the promising young pianist Martin Bejerano, provides solid support for this admirable date led by Daniel Smith.

Customer Reviews

more of the same....unfortunately

As a bassoonist, when I first heard of Daniel Smith playing jazz on the bassoon, I was thrilled! I thought that here at last, was someone who was going to break through the realm of classical bassoon repertoire, and do something new and different. Well, Smith does do that, as long as you ignore his woeful intonation, and over-all attitude of "I'm going to try and make the basson sound like a sax"..thereby creating some horrendous honking sound, Nevermind his recording set up, which sounds less like an ensemble, and more like Smith standing 3 inches away from the mic while a pre-recorded track plays in the background, with no thoughts as to balance, or overall quality of the ensemble. Unfortunately, this album seems to show that he has stuck to this guns in regards to how he plays, and records. What is even more disheartening is the fact that he has quite a few CD's out proclaiming that he is THE jazz bassoonist, and how wonderful that is. If you like his sound, fine..and yes, I'm fully aware that depending on what school of jazz you come from, this might be ok. HOWEVER, as someone who plays the instrument, and is fully aware of the sound you can produce under different circumstances (I'm referring to genre of music here) I am supremely disappointed. In my opinion, if you want to hear someone who really has a handle on the instrument, and has really blended the idea of the bassoon and jazz, instead of forcing one upon the other, go look for recordings of Paul Hanson. Sure, there aren't as many, and may not appeal to all, but it seems as though he's got a much better idea of how these two things, the instrument and the genre, should go together.


I really can't believe this is acceptable as jazz. Someone needs to tell Daniel Smith that playing jazz doesn't just mean playing with no embouchure. Anyone interested in how a bassoon can actually do jazz well should check out paul hanson.


Genre: Classical

Years Active:

Daniel Smith is one of the world's most prominent bassoon soloists. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music, Columbia University, and the Mannes College of Music. Smith has recorded numerous discs, with repertoire ranging from Baroque concerti to contemporary music, including jazz with a quartet under his own leadership, ragtime, and crossover. Daniel Smith is the first bassoonist to have recorded all 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos, in recordings made with the English Chamber Orchestra and I...
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Blue Bassoon, Daniel Smith
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