A celebrated player in the classical field who stands out for his virtuosity,
Daniel Smith distinguishes himself in this album, not just as an instrumentalist,
but also in his versions of these jazz standards. In this new recording, released
on a European label, Smith stamps his personal signature on these pieces with brand
new interpretations of 11 well-known standards as well as some Blue Note
With elegant and sinuous solos, clean and distinct
with their linear phrasing, and with an extremely personal style, the pieces are
sustained harmonically by wonderful backing, thanks to Martin Bejerano and John
Sullivan (respectively piano and double-bass player of the Roy Haynes'
band), as well as the essential and discreet drumming of Ludwig Afonso (currently
drummer for Spyro Gyra); allowing maximum expressive freedom in distinct improvisations
and with an identifiable and personal sound.
His playing stands out with refinements, use of chromatics, dynamics, and
Between musical ideas of wonderful originality, Smith has a way of extending
his own musical language, whether in lyrical or swinging pieces, revealing a versatile
talent inspired by, and utilizing, different styles and traditions from piece to
piece, skillfully keeping a balance between form and emotionalism.
The fluidity of his musical language keeps the improvisations from becoming
mundane and vague, such as in the atmosphere he creates with the Monk and Ellington
pieces. Smith defines their artistic character with clear and concise articulations,
a focused sound, and with opportunities to utilize melodic fragments, sequences
of pauses, and shortened notes drawing on a profound and sunny musical sensibility.
His interpretations bring to life to the impressionism of "Mood Indigo" and
the extroverted character of "Well You Needn't', recreating their styles and capturing
their essential character; while at the same time, avoiding unnecessary ornaments
or becoming complacent in musical ideas...and above all, in possession of a solid
and flowing creativity.
There is also much to commend in his rendition of 'I Remember You', with
imaginative ideas created within a sensual flowing of this medium tempo piece. Here
we find solos alternating between unexpected excursions into chromatics and then
on to much more straight-forward phrases, all with a coherence and logic, as well
as a strong and secure technique, while deliberately avoiding showing off.
It is well known that sometimes in jazz, notes might slip here and there,
especially in respect to some of the selections featured on this album. But in Daniel
Smith's improvisations, there are no such isolated moments, nor temptations to force
ideas, or excessively accentuate the shape of phrases.
Daniel Smith reaches in his playing a level of naturalness with pathos, spirit
and with much to praise.
Fabrizio Ciccarelli for Jazzitalia
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Publishing Date: 09/11/2008