Reviews

ZZCD 9824 – The Swingin’ Bassoon

Daniel Smith – Bassoon, Martin Bejerano – Piano, John Sullivan – Bass, Ludwig Afonso – Drums

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Review by Robert R. Calder

The main drawback of jazz bassoonery is that it doesn’t really match the human voice’s expressive potential. The expressive capacities are restricted. Still, Daniel Smith’s “Mood Indigo” is nicely detached and quirky like one of the bassoon one-offs Illinois Jacquet (which bassoonophils might persuade Prestige records to collect). There’s some perhaps unavoidable suspect pitching with “Home at Last”. (Well done to whoever found this composition and printed due praise of its creator, Hank Mobley.) The solos on bass (bowed) and piano make it apparant why Martin Bejerano and John Sullivan have regular sessions with Roy Haynes. On drums is the admirable Ludwig Afonso. Bejerano and Sullivan set things up nicely for Smith’s entry on “A Night in Tunisia,” and take over most of the number beautifully. The Jazz bassoon does sound less odd after a while. Coming off surprisingly well is Smith version of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t”. (Maybe he’s listened to records of John Coltrane playing Monk.) Smith knows what he’s doing, he’s inside the music (hence nice choices like Sammy Nestico’s “Hay Burner”) and if you don’t like what he does, well, blame the bassoon!

Review by Carina Prange

Zah Zah Records 9824/Guild Gmbh Das Naturtalent Smith stammt aus einer Familie ohne ausgesprochenen musika­lischen Hintergrund: Initialzündung für seine Karriere war eine Fernsehsendung mit Benny Goodman, dessen swingende Klarinette Smith magisch anzog. So ent­deckte er seine Liebe zum Fagott erst, nachdem er bereits Saxophon, Flöte und Klarinette gemeistert hatte. Das Fagott­spielen erprobte er zunächst im klas­sischen Kontext, stellte sich gar der Auf­gabe, die kompletten Fagott-Konzerte von Vivaldi aufzunehmen: 37 an der Zahl, drei von sechs Alben wurden mit dem „English Chamber Orchestra” eingespielt. Inzwi­schen hat der Amerikaner seinen ange­stammten Klassikkontext verlassen, um die Herausforderung anzunehmen, dieses Instrument auch im Jazz zu etablieren. Mit seinem Jazzdebüt „Bebop Bassoon” legte er den Grundstein für eine Reihe von Al­ben, die je eine Jazzstilistik abbilden. Dies setzt er nun mit „Swingin’ Bassoon” kon­sequent fort – mit ins Boot geholt hat er sich die jungen Musiker Martin Bejerano (p), John Sullivan (b) und Ludwig Alfonso (dr). Ein Alleinstellungsmerkmal weist Smith in der Tat auf; Fagottisten im Jazz gibt es sehr, sehr wenige. Allerdings be­gnügt er sich vorwiegend mit dem Nach­spielen bekannter und weniger bekannter Klassiker, swingt also im sicheren Fahr­wasser des eleganten Mainstreams. Bei­leibe nicht innovativ, auch nicht äußerst spannend – immerhin aufgrund der Instru­mentierung interessant.

Now on the Internet

Pod3tv, the award winning commercially sponsored video podcast production company with over four million viewers, showcases the artistry of acclaimed bassoon virtuoso Daniel Smith.

http://www.pod3.tv/node/633

Daniel Smith: Jazz Bassoonist Extraordinaire
Daniel Smith, the world’s most recorded bassoonist, takes us through his early life, his inspiration (the “trumpet” playing Benny Goodman) and explains just how difficult and different the Bassoon is to play straight, let alone for Jazz. Includes footage of live and studio performances.

Watch the full show on your Mac, PC, video iPod, iPhone or AppleTV

MORE DANIEL SMITH NEWS

*  Top 200 jazz musicians: In company with the most acclaimed jazz artists in the world, Daniel Smith is now included in the ‘Music Center Profiles’ listing of the world’s top 200 jazz musicians with All About Jazz.

*  90 Outstanding reviews: Daniel Smith’s recent jazz albums Bebop Bassoon and The Swingin’ Bassoon received a combined 90 outstanding reviews in the international press…along with extensive airplay world-wide.

*  Oliver Sacks: World famous author and neurologist Olive Sacks (‘Awakenings’) recently interviewed Daniel Smith on the subject of the creative mind and musical improvisation. Plans are for an article in essay form and inclusion of Daniel Smith in a future book.

*  Feature Interviews: Sonic magazine (Germany)…Jazz Notes (Greece)…Jazz Review (Canada)…All About Jazz (USA)…Vinilemania (Italy)…Jazzzeitung (Germany)…Ejazz News (USA)…others TBA shortly.

*  Concerto premiere: Legendary composer/arranger Robert Farnon’s final composition of a jazz-oriented bassoon concerto dedicated to Daniel Smith. The world premiere now being arranged in the UK for next season will feature two orchestras and a jazz rhythm section along with Daniel’s solo bassoon. Warner Chappell has published the score and parts and will announce details.

*  All Time Downloads: ‘Killer Joe’, from the album Bebop Bassoon, is now the sixth ranked all-time download with All About Jazz, the world’s biggest and most important jazz website.

* UK jazz performance: Daniel Smith’s recent performance at Thame Concert Jazz Club with the Jonathan Gee trio was a huge success. Sample quotes: ‘Go and hear him!’…’You’ve never heard anything like it before!’…’The audience was spellbound!’

*  Ads for 2008:  Musical America…Jazzahead…The British Music Yearbook…Jazz UK…Jazz Improv…All About Jazz…Scottish Tours Book…others

*  Four management Agencies: Daniel Smith is now represented world-wide by four music agencies:

USA:   Gino Moratti Artists Management Group
Europe:  (10 countries) Proton Musikmanagement
UK:     Concert Jazz-Classical Productions UK
Europe/Latin America:   Artemedios Management

*  Further news and updates:       www.danielsmithbassoon.com


Source Unknown

The bassoon is an instrument that isn’t a total stranger to jazz. Some have doubled on bassoon at times, but even that isn’t often. Others have incorporated it into their compositions and arrangements. (See Michael Rabinowitz tear it up as part of the Mingus Orchestra some time). But it’s reaching new places and new audiences with the “arrival,” as it were, of Daniel Smith, a Brooklyn-born musician who reached acclaim with the instrument in the classical world and is taking it strongly into jazz.

He says, in spite of the accolades he received as a classical musician, learning the intricacies of jazz (an arduous task, he admits), he now enjoys its challenges and its potential more than he does the classical side.

“For me,” he says, “it is jazz and improvisation that I find much more rewarding. There is simply no limit as to how high your skills can take you with constant improvement via a lot of hard work and focus. And you are always caught by surprise with new ideas which suddenly pop out and catch you by surprise.”

His playing in jazz is still developing, he says, but progress can be seen in the growing audiences for his gigs in the U.S. and Europe that are enjoying the music of his jazz quartet, and can be measured in a pair of recordings Bebop Bassoon (2006) and Swingin’ Bassoon (2007) on the Zah Zah label that, between them, cover a wide variety of standards and styles, from Miles and Monk to Basie, Duke, Bird, Dizzy and more. With him is his trio of Martin Bejerano on piano, John Sullivan on bass and Ludwig Afonso on drums. The disks have gotten some attention. Both “are heard world-wide in many countries stretching from North to South America, all of Europe, Asia and as far as Moscow,” he says.

His long-appreciated classical work also goes strong. In 2005, composer/arranger Robert Farnon dedicated his final composition to Smith. “Romancing the Phoenix” is a three-movement bassoon concerto for solo amplified bassoon with rhythm section and full symphony orchestra in a jazz-oriented style crossed with symphonic. Warner Chappell recently published the score and parts with Robert Farnon’s dedication to “The American virtuoso Daniel Smith” on the title page.

“Robert Farnon was a legendary figure in the world of arranging, orchestration and composing. This bassoon concerto was his very last composition before his untimely death in early 2005. His third symphony was set to be premiered in Edmonton, Canada, and Edinburgh, Scotland, that year. After these premieres, the plan was to follow with premieres of the bassoon concerto, which Farnon himself was going to arrange. His idea was to have a number of premieres worldwide including with Andre Previn in Oslo, the Royal Philharmonic and the Proms in the UK, orchestras in Canada, the USA,” says Smith.

He says it appears that a United Kingdom world premiere will be held in 2009, “with two orchestras combining forces … there will be extensive publicity worldwide about the premiere, followed by what we hope will be premieres in the USA, Canada and throughout Europe.” His performances have included other firsts: The American West Coast premiere Gunther Schuller’s “Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra,” the world premiere of Steve Gray’s “Jazz Suite For Bassoon,” with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra and solo concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, among other prestigious dates.

The achievements are significant. But perhaps even more so in light of the fact that Smith’s interest in music wasn’t appreciated by his parents. It was stifled. But his interest and talent still rose to the fore. The persistence required to overcome that obstacle served him well. It extended into a keen focus on learning music and various instruments that have vaulted him into a successful and decorated career.

Being pushed away from music caused him to actually forge toward it, he contends. And hearing Benny Goodman as a teenager perhaps cinched his life’s direction.

There were “pressures put on me to conform and do something ‘normal,’ like being an accountant, teacher, dentist, post office worker, whatever. I was a very different sort of child and no one in my family knew what to make of me. My mother was determined to stop me in my tracks when I took up clarinet lessons and took me for an aptitude test,” he says. “I did, in fact, score highest for accountancy, but the second highest score was music. My mother felt she was now vindicated and said to the examiner, ‘So you do agree that he should be an accountant.’ To which the examiner said, ‘Well no. He really should be a musician.’ Having had a discussion beforehand with him, he gave his professional opinion to my mother with the ‘wrong’ answer of music—so I was now damned for life.”

Smith was sixteen year old when he saw a New Year’s Eve special with the original Benny Goodman trio re-united (Goodman, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa) on TV. “I was totally mesmerized by the music and felt a powerful urge there and then to learn the instrument that Benny Goodman was playing. I went to a local music store and said I wanted to learn how to play the trumpet. The owner asked me why. I told him I saw a Mr. Goodman playing it on TV. The owner asked: what did his trumpet look like? I said it was long and black, and was then told it was a clarinet and not a trumpet. So much for musical sophistication in my background.”

He jumped into music, still with opposition on the home front. “My father was horrified when I went to enroll at the Manhattan School of Music and claimed that my sax teacher—Bill Sheiner, the same teacher who taught Stan Getz one generation earlier—was deliberately trying to ruin my life. One night when practicing in our basement, my father physically dragged me upstairs to look at the TV. On the screen was Elvis Presley jumping around while doing one of his hit tunes. My father yelled, ‘That’s a real musician, he makes lots of money.’ So much for culture in my upbringing.”

“It is interesting how much of the world’s cultures value the arts while here in the USA, so much of the population is devoted to making money and materialism,” Smith notes. “I have lived in Europe off and on for over twenty years and see very clearly the different values in European societies in regard to having a career in the arts. Hardly anyone thinks you are strange or asks how much money you make or what do you really do for a living. It is an important part of the values and priorities within many societies and artists are well respected and often well compensated for their achievements.”

Smith took up extensive musical training on many instruments. He started clarinet at sixteen, then added the saxophone a year later. He took up flute lessons the next year, entered the Manhattan School of Music as a clarinet major, switched in his second year to being a flute major, eventually earning three degrees there. “I studied each and every instrument quite seriously and had some of the best teachers on each of them,” he says, including Bill Sheiner, Eddie Meyers and Joe Allard on sax; Bill Sheiner and Leon Russianoff on clarinet; Harold Bennett, John Wummer and Francis Blaisdell on flute; William Polisi, Harold Goltzer, Sherman Walt, Lenny Hindell and Bernie Garfield on bassoon; and Bert Bial and Richard Plaster on contrabassoon.

He even studied the violin, piano and oboe for short periods. He honed skills in all kinds of musical situations on various instruments, show bands and Latin bands, concert bands, Broadway bands, symphony orchestras and more. Once he took up the bassoon, he played a season with the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras as a substitute or extra player, two seasons with the New Jersey Symphony, The National Ballet orchestra on tour, four seasons on fellowship with the National Orchestral Society, a fellowship at Tanglewood, The New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony, and quite a few other orchestras as a free-lance bassoonist or contrabassoonist.

“But everything came very late in life for me in regard to learning music and playing various instruments, especially the bassoon,” says Smith.

His teachers and the classical repertoire he heard on recordings or played as a member of various orchestras were his musical influences in the classical realm. “Then once I started to record, the bassoon concertos and music of such as Vivaldi, Gordon Jacob, Elgar, Bach, as well as pieces on bassoon adapted from the music of Scott Joplin, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Mozart, and countless others. And last but not least, several well-known bassoon soloists from various countries.”

As for jazz, a friend introduced him to those sounds during his high school days in the Bronx. He heard the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie on Dial and other labels. He went to hear jazz at Birdland and other clubs, using a fake draft card to get in.

“I was first in line at Birdland, and for $1.80, purchased a ticket and sat in the peanut gallery right next to the piano. There I heard so many of the jazz greats. Count Basie’s band many times, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Cannonball, Coltrane, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan and so many others. This was just about the time I was learning the clarinet, so from my teens onwards, I was not a stranger to jazz,” he says.

Smith’s early jazz idols included Getz, Parker, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Miles, the Basie, Ellington, Woody Herman and other bands, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley and Mulligan. Even when he began to focus on an instrument not associated with jazz, he was undeterred.

For whatever reason, once I got the ‘bug,’ I never doubted I could do it,” says Smith. “But I instinctively knew from the start it would not be easy and with no short cuts, given the difficulties of the bassoon. All my already achieved skills as a virtuoso in classical music were of no help whatsoever when I started to plunge into jazz and improvising. It was only after three or four years of mastering all the jazz scales and chords and learning in stages how to improvise that the technique I already had from before clicked in and joined up with my newly learned jazz skills.”

Smith puts Charlie Parker on par with Mozart’s musical genius. “Talent and genius are often attained via sheer hard work and dedication, and the same jazz talent might very well have been a fine composer of classical music and vice versa,” he says. Which genre is more difficult? Smith doesn’t hesitate.

He says it is “several times more difficult to pull off convincing jazz. For instance, the saxophone jumps the octave with a single key and the fingerings mostly stay the same, except for the very top and bottom notes. The clarinet has a register key which makes a jump of a twelfth—again the fingerings remain mostly the same other than being different pitches. With the flute, you jump the octave with the use of the lip while using many of the same fingerings.

“The bassoon is a bit more than a three octave instrument. Once you move upward from the middle-low register, you have multiple problems to deal with. This includes completely different fingerings for many notes in the upper registers, extreme care with diaphragm and breath control to get the higher pitches in tune and passages which require extreme dexterity. Examples range from many of the Vivaldi bassoon concertos, up-tempo pieces of Charlie Parker and Dizzy, and the release of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Well You Needn’t’ with its fast-moving, descending chromatic seventh chords. Not for the faint hearted.”

Smith’s years of study have paid off. But there’s more to learn; he best yet to come.

“I just did a concert in England at the Thame Concert Jazz Club with the Jonathan Gee trio filling out my ‘Bassoon and Beyond’ jazz quartet with wonderful piano, bass and drum accompaniment,” he says in December of 2007. “This trio performed many times at Ronnie Scotts in London with the likes of Joe Lovano and Benny Golson, so it was important that I do my best with them. I came well-prepared and was able to do the entire concert from memory with no music stand on stage and never missed a note. My solos were light years beyond my jazz album solos and the evening just got better and better. I attribute this to a lot of hard work, and by leaving nothing to chance in preparing for this concert. The lesson here is that one can attain higher and higher levels in jazz and continually improving with hard work and dedication.


JAZZ ZEITUNG 05/2007

Das Beste aus zwei Welten

Der Fagottist Daniel Smith zwischen Klassik und Jazz

Von der Klassik zum Jazz und gelegentlich wieder zurück: das ist eine Kurzbeschreibung des Werkens und Wirkens des amerikanischen Musikers Daniel Smith. An sich nichts Ungewöhnliches, könnte man meinen, wäre es nicht ein ziemlich sperriges Instrument, das Smith sich da auserkoren hat: das Fagott. Wobei Smith nicht von Anfang an auf das Fagott festgelegt war, sondern sich in den Jahren davor auch auf Saxophon, Flöte und Klarinette profilierte. Hatte Smith sich einst auf dem Gebiet der Klassik den kompletten Fagott-Konzerten von Vivaldi gewidmet, 37 an der Zahl, und diese alle auf CD eingespielt, so grast er derzeit die Jazzepochen ab: nach „Bebop Bassoon“ erschien jetzt sein neues Album „The Swingin’ Bassoon“ (Zah Zah Records) – den Klängen des Fagotts im Jazzkontext zu lauschen und ihnen nachzuspüren, sei hiermit wärmstens empfohlen.

jazzzeitung: Daniel, du bist gleichermaßen in der Klassik wie im Jazz zuhause. Warum gibt es so wenige anderen Fagottisten, die das ebenso beherrschen?
Daniel Smith: Der Durchschnittshörer und selbst viele Musiker haben keine Ahnung, wie schwierig es ist, das Fagott zu meistern. Ähnlich der Geige gilt es als „Zehn Jahre“-Instrument. So lange nämlich braucht man, bis man es beherrscht – wohingegen man das Saxophon bereits nach zwei Jahren intensiven Übens und mit Hilfe eines guten Lehrers recht anständig spielen kann.
Und selbst dann, wenn man es – in der Klassik, wohl bemerkt! – zum erstrangigen Fagottisten mit professionellem Niveau geschafft hat, bedeutet der Versuch, auf diesem Instrument Jazz zu spielen, einen wahren Albtraum an technischen Problemen. Die gleiche Jazzphrase, die auf dem Saxophon leicht auszuführen ist, wird auf dem Fagott um ein mehrfaches schwieriger. Dabei ist es egal, ob sie aufnotiert wurde, oder ob man improvisiert.

jazzzeitung: Selbst als anerkannter Virtuose im Klassikbereich nützen dir deine Fertigkeiten auf dem Instrument so gut wie gar nichts, wenn du dich in Jazzgefilde begibst. Du musst quasi ein paar Jahre erneut die Schulbank drücken und erst die Grundlagen des Improvisierens auf diesem Instrument erarbeiten. Irgendwann gelingt es dann, auch die klassischen Techniken nutzbringend einzusetzen.
Smith: Hier sehe ich den Grund, warum es so gut wie keine anderen Fagottisten zu geben scheint, die sich in beiden Genres wohl fühlen: Um das zu tun, muss man erst die Leiter zum klassischen Virtuosentum erklimmen und dann, indem man von Null neu anfängt, dasselbe mühsam als improvisierender Jazzmusiker nachvollziehen. Weil das aber Jahre dauert, ist es nicht jedermanns Sache. Ich persönlich bin froh, dass ich mich dieser Herausforderung gestellt habe.

jazzzeitung: Wo der klassische Musiker dem Schauspieler gleicht, der den Noten des Komponisten wie den Bühnenanweisungen des Regisseurs folgt, kann der Jazzmusiker wirklich besser seine Gefühle ausdrücken? Wie stehst du als „Mann der zwei Welten“ dazu?
Smith: Das mit dem Jazz und den Gefühlen würde ich so unterschreiben. Die Improvisation eröffnet dem Spiel aber grundsätzlich Welten, wobei der Reiz darin besteht, dass man nie vorher weiß, wohin es führen mag – weder an einem bestimmten Tag, oder insgesamt über die Jahre. Idealerweise bildet jeder neu erarbeitete Mosaikstein eine Stufe auf der Leiter, von der aus man sich noch weiter nach oben strecken kann. Das gilt auch für die eigene Kreativität – irgendwann stellt man fest, dass man alles, was man in der Lage ist, sich vorzustellen, auch umsetzen kann. Gleichzeitig lernt man, viele Takte vorauszudenken und den Kurs dessen zu bestimmen, was folgen soll. Das wird so intuitiv, wie beim Sprechen einen Satz zu bilden.
Wenn man in diesem „Alpha-Zustand“ ist – so hat Stan Getz das genannt – dann hört man ganze Passagen voraus, während man noch dabei ist, eine bestimmte Phrase erst zu spielen. Die Ideen fliegen einem voraus, scheinbar mühelos. Aber frag mich nicht, wie – ich habe keine Ahnung, ich weiß nur, dass es geht! Es passiert einfach. Das ist ja eines der vielen Mysterien, wie das Gehirn funktioniert. Oder wie die Finger dem folgen…

jazzzeitung: Du hast ja auch Saxophon und Klarinette gelernt und gespielt. Konzentrierst du dich in letzter Zeit auf das Fagott?
Smith: Sogar ausschließlich! Wie Stan Getz zu sagen pflegte, man benötigt sein ganzes Leben, um ein Instrument wirklich zu beherrschen. Und er, Getz, würde nicht im Traum daran denken, irgendein Instrument neben dem Tenorsax auch nur in die Hand zu nehmen! Aber wusstest du schon, dass Getz in der Highschool Fagott gespielt hat und für dieses Instrument sogar ein Stipendium erhalten hatte? Und zwar an der Morris High School in der Bronx. Meine ersten Lektionen am Saxophon erhielt ich dort vom gleichen Lehrer, der seinerzeit auch Stan Getz unterrichtet hatte. Das war Bill Sheiner. Und es war sogar der gleiche Unterrichtsraum, in dem auch Getz das Saxophonspielen gelernt hat – nur eine Generation vor mir…

Interview: Carina Prange

Live Concert Review

JAZZ AT THAME CONCERT JAZZ CLUB

BORN IN THE USA , DANIEL SMITH, SPENT HIS EARLY YEARS LISTENING TO THE GREAT GIANTS OF  JAZZ SUCH AS COUNT BASIE IN HIS HOME TOWN NEW YORK CITY.

CLASSICALLLY TRAINED HE HAS, WITH THIS BACKGROUND SUCESSFULLY CROSSED OVER SEAMLESSLY TO THE JAZZ WORLD WITH HIS MASTERING OF A CUMBERSOME AND SOMEWHAT UNGAINLY INSTRUMENT  “THE BASSOON”

THE AUDIENCE WAS SPELLBOUND WITH THE LOVELY LYRICAL AND WARM TONAL QUALITY DANIEL SMITH ACHIEVED FROM HIS DEEP VOICED INSTRUMENT PLAYING GREAT  JAZZ STANDARDS.

INDEED, I WAS SO IMPRESSED WITH HIS NEW CD, HE KINDLY GAVE ME, THAT I PLAYED THREE TRACKS , SOMETHING I HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE.

DANIEL WAS ABLEY BACKED UP WITH PIANIST  JONATHAN GEE ON KEYBOARDS , STEVE ROSE ON DOUBLE BASS AND WINSTON CLIFFORD ON DRUMS, WHO MADE AN ALTOGETHER DELIGHTFUL EVENING OF JAZZ AT  JAZZ EDDIES GREAT VENUE AT THAME OXON ENGLAND .

MAKE SURE YOU VIEW THE WEBSITE OF  JAZZEDDIE.F.2.S.COM FOR MORE OF HIS SUPERB  JAZZ EVENINGS WITH SOME GREAT JAZZ TALENTS  APPEARING REGULARLY AT THAME CONCERT JAZZ CLUB, ……POSSIBLY ONE OF THE BEST JAZZ WEBSITES IN THE WORLD.

DAVE SELF RADIO JAZZ PRESENTER & PRODUCER / TVU . BLAST 1386. (on the web) & STOKE MANDEVILLE HOSPITAL RADIO

British Double Reed Society- review Monday December 03 2007

2 CDs  – ‘Bebop Bassoon’ and ‘The Swingin’ Bassoon’

There is not one but two problems with the bassoon playing jazz. The first is obvious and Daniel Smith sums it up neatly in his sleeve note: ‘I believe that the main reason for jazz on the bassoon being such a rarity lies in the very nature of the instrument.” This, by extension, includes the player: hardly any bassoonist will have originally taken up ‘this noble instrument of mirth’ (as Anthony McCall Smith calls it) to concentrate on playing serious jazz, whereas a sax player at least has the natural choice of genres.

The second problem is the audience. Whether a lover of jazz or not, does the listener want to hear the bassoon’s singing tenor register or it’s bouncy bass notes employed in this way? Does the bassoon offer a genuinely new star in that galaxy which can deliver sparkle or blues effortlessly such as trumpet, sax, piano, bass or trombone- or cut through the textures of a brass or sax section?

Daniel Smith is clearly someone to be reckoned with. His discography is huge, and his advocacy of the jazz bassoon concept is enormously energetic. In the end it will be personal listener choice that decides whether his enterprise succeeds and, particularly, these CDs sell.

Indeed, Smith sounds altogether relaxed and assured in standards by Monk, Parker, Ellington, Mercer, Gillespie and others. Whatever you decide in the end about jazz bassoon, you will certainly admire the accompanying trio whose playing is always sympathetically and flexibly stylish.
Clive Fairbairn


JAZZIMPROV MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2007

PERSONNEL: Daniel Smith, bassoon; Martin Bejerano, piano; John Sullivan, bass; Ludwig Afonso, drums.
THE SWINGIN’ BASSOON — Zah Zah #9824 I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; Well You Needn’t; Hay Burner; Scrapple From The Apple; Mood Indigo; Summer Samba; Out Of Nowhere; St. Thomas; I Remember You; Home At Last; A Night In Tunisia.
PERSONNEL: Daniel Smith, bassoon; Martin Bejerano, piano; John Sullivan, bass; Ludwig Afonso, drums.

Is it a trombone, a baritone sax or perhaps a bass clarinet? When one hears the first notes of Bebop Bassoon, as Daniel Smith starts swinging on “Killer Joe,” the sound is a bit ambiguous and disconcerting. As Smith solos, it becomes apparent that this is a sound rarely heard before — an improvising bassoonist.

In the 1920s, there were two jazz bassoonists of note although both were better known for their work on other instruments. Frankie Trumbauer, master of the C-melody saxophone, an instrument that became largely extinct in jazz when he retired, took an occasional rare solo on bassoon, showing that he was quite fluent. Garvin Bushell, a clarinetist who played with Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds in 1921 and recorded with John Coltrane (a few numbers on Live At The Village Vanguard) 40 years later, was a superior musician who also played tenor, alto, soprano, and oboe in addition to clarinet and bassoon. He took a fine bassoon solo with the Louisiana Sugar Babes (a recording group with both Fats Waller and James P. Johnson) in 1928 and was occasionally featured in the late 1950s playing bassoon with Wilbur DeParis’
New New Orleans Jazz Band.

But other than its use in Paul Whiteman’s band and on dates with string orchestras, the bassoon remained 100% associated with classical music for decades. A few West Coast cool jazz sessions in the 1950s used a bassoon but no major jazz bassoonist emerged from those projects. In the 1960s, several tenor-saxophonists explored the bassoon a little. Veteran
Illinois Jacquet surprised many by occasionally switching to bassoon for a ballad. Yusef Lateef, best known for his work on tenor, flute and oboe, once in awhile also played bassoon as did Ken McIntyre. In later years Frank Tiberi with Woody Herman’s orchestra
also had spots on bassoon.

It has only been in recent times that a few fulltime jazz bassoonists emerged. Karen Borca, who was associated with the late altoist Jimmy Lyons, plays bassoon in avant-garde settings. Janet Grice was featured in some unlikely pop/jazz crossover projects on bassoon. And perhaps the most significant, Michael Rabinowitz, has shown on numerous occasions that
the bassoon can take a saxophonist’s place in straight ahead jazz.

Daniel Smith is believed to be the most recorded bassoon soloist of today. While many of his projects are in classical music (including a six-CD set of all 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos), he is a true rarity in that he is equally skilled in jazz. When he plays jazz, he does not come across as a classical stylist who is moonlighting or slumming but as an improviser who digs into the material.

Bebop Bassoon and The Swingin’ Bassoon, both released by Zah Zah, are logical places to begin in exploring Daniel Smith’s conception of the jazz bassoon.

Accompanied by the tasteful rhythm section of pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Afonso, Smith is cast in the role of a tenor-saxophonist, usually stating the melodies and taking the bulk of the solo space although there are plenty of spots for Bejerano and occasionally Sullivan.

One might think that the former date is beboporiented while the latter looks towards swing, but both sets actually feature similar music. Other than Dexter Gordon’s “Sticky Wicket,” Sammy Nestico’s “Hay Burner” and Hank Mobley’s “Home At Last,” each of the selections are well-known standards.

Once one gets past the novel sound of a bassoon in this format, the music comes across as much more conventional. Smith has done a fine job of mastering the bebop vocabulary and sounding like a fulltime jazz musician, not an easy feat. Nor is it simple to play the bassoon in a jazz setting with the facility of a masterful saxophonist. However it would be an exaggeration to call his solos innovative. Smith’s improvisations are boppish and a bit conservative, never venturing outside the chord structures. No special arrangements were used and the overall music sounds more like an informal run-through of tunes than an attempt to say something new, beyond the featuring of a bassoon. Certainly these versions of “Killer Joe,” “Sister Sadie” and “Doxy” from Bebop Bassoon, and “Well You Needn’t,” “Mood Indigo” and “A Night In Tunisia” on The Swingin’ Bassoon would never be considered definitive or as significant as the recordings by the Jazztet, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington or Dizzy Gillespie.
But the music is certainly enjoyable, swinging and very well played. These two CDs serve as proof that the bassoon can fit comfortably into jazz, and that Daniel Smith is a brilliant musician.
Scott Yanow


CADENCE OCTOBER – NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2007

The introduction of unique instrumentation into the Jazz canon has a long tradition, with the modern age looking to oddballs like, say, Rufus Harley’s bagpipes, Roland Kirk’s stritch or maybe even Toots Thielemans’ harmonica, among others. One instrument prevalent in

symphonic settings that has yet to be truly utilized in a Jazz setting is the bassoon. The low-toned, double reed monster has had its adherents in various wind ensembles or present in the hands of such excellent improvised music specialists such as Karen Borca or Michael Rabinowitz, but there is a void within the Bop setting. Enter Daniel Smith, a player with an incredibly diverse range of interests, proficient in Vivaldi’s concertos, modern Classical works and those of the likes of Bird, Monk and Duke.

Smith’s first all Bop standards record, Bebop and Beyond—Swinging Bassoon made Smith look like the JJ Johnson of the bassoon, where Smith made the tricky, muscular Bop dialogue sound simple. Swingin’Bassoon picks up where its predecessor left off, a set of eleven familiar pieces with a strong quartet that includes pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Afonso.

It is a program of chestnuts, with the fitting opener being the lovely “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” a highlight of the interplay being Smith and Bejerano, full of sunny licks and forward momentum. In this vein, the Basie band vehicle, “Hay Burner” takes a ride, while “Mood Indigo” shuffles along at a pleasant gait. Looking at a different perspective,

the quartet offers a Latin framework for “Summer Samba” and a Calypso vibe for Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas,” the latter offering the spotlight to Afonso’s buoyant, in the pocket rhythms which present style without flash.

The Jazz signposts are all here for the Bop fanatics. Really, how can you pass up Monk’s tricky, “Well, You Needn’t” taken bassoon style? What about the Bop anthems like the sprightly, “Scrapple From The Apple” or “A Night In Tunisia?” Smith and Co. also seek to interpret other classics, such as the lovely “Out Of Nowhere” and “I Remember You,” with the solid supporting case providing plenty of room for Smith to showcase his

talents on such a demanding instrument.

Admittedly, hearing these classics within this context is initially a bit of an adjustment. Easily seen as a novelty (or a “legit” player slumming it), Smith makes his case for the bassoon as more than merely an instrument suited for the orchestra or for extra shadings within a Jazz ensemble. Sure, the instrument may take some getting used to with its awkward tonality and rhythmic constraints, but the quality of the material, the tight mainstream ensemble and Smith’s ability to tackle such a demanding instrument (and program) make this a success.
Jay Collins


POPMATTERS TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13 2007

The main drawback of jazz bassoonery is that it doesn’t really match the human voice’s expressive potential. The expressive capacities are restricted. Still, Daniel Smith’s “Mood Indigo” is nicely detached and quirky like one of the bassoon one-offs Illinois Jacquet (which bassoonophils might persuade Prestige records to collect). There’s some perhaps unavoidable suspect pitching with “Home at Last”. (Well done to whoever found this composition and printed due praise of its creator, Hank Mobley.) The solos on bass (bowed) and piano make it apparant why Martin Bejerano and John Sullivan have regular sessions with Roy Haynes. On drums is the admirable Ludwig Afonso. Bejerano and Sullivan set things up nicely for Smith’s entry on “A Night in Tunisia,” and take over most of the number beautifully. The Jazz bassoon does sound less odd after a while. Coming off surprisingly well is Smith version of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t”. (Maybe he’s listened to records of John Coltrane playing Monk.) Smith knows what he’s doing, he’s inside the music (hence nice choices like Sammy Nestico’s “Hay Burner”) and if you don’t like what he does, well, blame the bassoon!
Robert R. Calder

O’s Place Jazz News Letter Sunday November 11 2007

The bassoon has a really blue sound and is rarely used as the lead instrument particularly in a jazz set. Finding anyone who can play clean notes on it is another challenge! Classically trained Daniel Smith has been dabbling in jazz space for several years now and The Swinging Bassoon is second release. Forget any perceptions you may have and just sit back and enjoy this one. Smith is on top of his game, cooking on “Scrapple From The Apple” backed by a tight rhythm section with Martin Bejerano (p), John Sullivan (b) and Ludwig Afonso (d). Our picks are “A Night In Tunisia” and “Summer Samba” among many classics.

All About Jazz com Saturday October 27 07

The bassoon is a difficult instrument to navigate. Yusef Lateef, Ken McIntyre and Frankie Trumbauer are among the few who have played it, although the fit into jazz is often less than tidy. Daniel Smith has sufficient technique to give his instrument of choice an interesting enough voice.

Smith has focus and creativity, which he shows to a large extent on this recording of standards. While he entices when he swings and stokes the flames of a ballad, there are a couple of tunes that eclipse his efforts to fill them with an appealing body or soul.

The good comes first. Smith lays open “I’m Getting Sentimental over You,” going into swing mode after stating the head. His tone is deep and rumbling, but he changes the register just enough to lighten the progression. Martin Bejerano (piano) adds a delectably nimble touch. He lights the song, setting in juxtaposition the dark hue of the bassoon with the bright permutation of the piano. There is an added plus in the thick bass notes of John Sullivan.

Smith shines on “Mood Indigo.” He plays with becoming ease, slipping into the melody and indulging in its beauty. He chooses to improvise on the melody, and so he is never far from the core. The rhythm section of Sullivan and Ludwig Afonso (drums) is supple, with Afonso adding to the impress with his brushwork. Smith keeps the calypso pulse of “St. Thomas” fertile as he sways through the melody. Bejerano takes it out of the center and fills the tune with his marvelous sense of adventure.

Smith’s version of “Well You Needn’t” does not cut the swath. His pace is heavy and bogged down by the bop harmony. In trying to surmount the challenge, he comes up short, as he does on “Scrapple From the Apple.”

Despite these drawbacks Smith delivers a tidy enough CD.
Jerry D’Souza


LIVE DIGITAL SUNDAY OCTOBER 14 2007

“Makes his difficult instrument dance like Gerry Mulligan’s baritone sax “_London Evening Standard.

The bassoon is a deep sounding wooden wind instrument, with a double reed and a long tube, almost 2.50 meters in length , carved in the shape of a U, a base instrument, which is historically connected to classical music and unusual for jazz. A well known photograph of Anthony Braxton playing the bassoon is the first image of the instrument connected to jazz. It would be difficult to refer to the bassoon under more straight ahead jazz conditions, even though the avant-garde uses all sorts of wind instruments, the bassoon is not included in these musical improvisations.

Daniel Smith is an acclaimed virtuoso of the bassoon and one of the most renowned soloists of our time. A musician dedicated to researching the possibilities of the instrument, a born progressive experimentalist musician, whose technique and strong imagination allow him to move with great ease from Vivaldi and baroque to ragtime and be-bop. He is the first musician to have recorded all of Vivaldi’s 37 concerts for bassoon, works which won him many awards and recognition in then classical music circuit. His other great passion apart from classical music is jazz, with all it’s expressions. His quartet forms a distinguished and promising dynamic scheme, introducing a new acoustical relationship of the bassoon into jazz.

Daniel Smiths’ works “Bebop bassoon” and “Swinger bassoon” rightfully declare him a ambassador of jazz-bassoon, proving that this large and heavy instrument can swing and offer full and exciting jazz sounds. Smith plays the instrument with the same gentle approach as Mulligan does with his “lightness” on his bass sax, or as Ray Draper with his tuba. Both works aren’t only a show of masterful techniques, but two very interesting full entities, with influences from classic bop compositions to jazz standards.


Vininemania Sunday October 14 2007

A celebrated player in a classical field and particularly noted for his virtuosity, Daniel Smith distinguishes himself not just as an instrumentalist but also arranger. Signing his name to the re-reading of 11 of the most famous pieces known in the repertoire “Evergreen” and the “Blue Notes” in this recent album published in Europe.

Elegant and curvaceous are his solos, clean and distinct from a linear phrase and extremely personal, sustained harmonically by the fundamental idea ”all round” thanks to Martin Bejerano and Joe Sullivan (respectively piano and double-bass of the Roy Haynes band) and as much to the essential and discreet drumming of Ludwig Alfonso (at this moment drummer for the Spiro Gyra), that allows the maximum expressive freedom in distinct improvisation by an identifiable sound. Recognisable for it’s refinery and for it’s muted chromatics, dynamic and pleasingly unpredictable.

Between pentagrams of such great originality, Smith has a way of extending his actual language be it in lyrical instances as much as in propulsive momentous swing. Or in singular jams session intuitions, revealing a versatile talent inspired by anything else but abstracts, differing according to the traditions of the bop of the urgent melodies between brief intervals. Skillfully placed in balance between form and emotionalism.

The fluidness of the musical syntax gives distance between the aesthetic choices from useless snobbery and opaque expressiveness, like in the atmosphere of the monkiane or ellingtonian pages, that, in the end, exemplify the artistic character: clear articulation and concise, a pure stamp, with an opportunely fragmented melody and designed in line with a sequence of pauses and compressed notes that draw on the profound and sunny sensibility.

The composite project is cultured to give life to the impressionism of “Mood Indigo” or to the flight of “Well you needn’t” putting on a significance in which the sense could get away should it not appeal to avoid such common ornaments and become complacent – which has not rarely happened before – and if, above all, he was not in possession of such a creative, openly and solid pass.

A lot appears in the research of the creativeness in “I remember you”, modulating the real force of imagination in the sensual running of the tempo debole, alternating unexpected excursus in semi-chrome to much simpler phrases of a coherent profile and ductile both in the inventive logic as well as in the sensitive and secure technique, willingly anti-spectacular.

It is known, sometimes the notes “escape your hands”, especially in front of those types of pages chosen by Daniel Smith; but in his Jazz there are not any unusual appearances, temptations to force the incursions or excessively accentuate the colourations.

Arriving to naturalness with pathos and rising. This is its merit.

Concertista celebre  in àmbito classico e particolarmente noto per il suo virtuosismo, Daniel Smith si distingue non solo come strumentista ma anche come arrangiatore, firmando la rilettura di 11 tra i brani più conosciuti nel repertorio evergreen delle blue notes in questo album  recentemente pubblicato in Europa.

Eleganti e sinuosi i suoi assoli, nitidi e distinti da un fraseggio lineare ed estremamente personale, sostenuti armonicamente dalle idee formalmente “a tutto tondo” tanto di Martin Bejerano e Joe Sullivan (rispettivamente pianista e contrabbassista della band di Roy Haynes) quanto dal drumming essenziale e discreto di Ludwig Afonso (attualmente batterista degli Spiro Gyra), che ne consentono la massima libertà espressiva in improvvisazioni distinte da una sonorità identificabile, riconoscibile per raffinatezza e per i tanti mutamenti cromatici, dinamici e piacevolmente imprevedibili.

Fra pentagrammi di tale magnifica originalità, Smith ha modo di estendere il proprio linguaggio sia in istanti lirici quanto in propulsivi slanci swing o in singolari intuizioni di jam session , rivelando un versatile talento ispirato a modelli tutt’altro che astratti, declinati secondo la tradizione bop delle melodie urgenti tra brevi intervalli, abilmente in equilibrio tra forma ed emotività.

La fluidità della sua sintassi musicale ne distanzia le scelte estetiche da inutili snobismi ed opache espressività, come nelle atmosfere delle pagine monkiane o ellingtoniane, che, in definitiva, ne esemplificano la caratura artistica: articolazioni chiare e concise, timbro puro, melodia opportunamente frammentata e disegnata secondo una sequenza di pause e note compresse che attinge ad una sensibilità profonda e solare.

Il progetto composito e colto di dar vita all’impressionismo di “Mood Indigo” o all’estrosità di “Well You needn’t” assume un significato il cui senso potrebbe sfuggire se non si ricorresse all’evitare ornamenti debordanti e compiaciuti – come non di rado è accaduto – e se, soprattutto, non si fosse in possesso di un passo creativo solido e aperto.

Tanto appare anche nella ricerca di compostezza in “I remember you”, modulando la propria forza immaginativa nello scorrere sensuale del tempo debole, alternando inattesi  excursus  in semicrome a frasi più semplici dal profilo coerente e duttile sia nella logica inventiva che in una tecnica sensibile e sicura, volutamente antispettacolare.

Si sa, a volte le note “fuggono di mano”, specie di fronte a pagine come quelle scelte da Daniel Smith; ma nel suo jazz non ci sono presenze insolite, tentazioni di forzare le incursioni o accentuare eccessivamente le coloriture.

Giungere alla naturalezza con pathos e levità. Questo il pregio.
Frbrizio Circarelli


Jazz Workshop: CD Review: Daniel Smith – The Swingin’ Bassoon Saturday September 22 2007

It’s easy to be put off by Daniel Smith’s The Swingin’ Bassoon, his second jazz album. It’s a strange instrument (for jazz), and a bass-oriented one that’s being played in a higher register than normal—making strange sounds. On the other extreme, its songs are some of the world’s most overtaxed swing and bebop chestnuts. “Summer Samba?” “A Night in Tunisia?” How worthwhile could it be?

Plenty. Alien though it is, Smith’s bassoon has a charming, anecdotal approach to phrasing, as well as a round, fat sound that still penetrates like a scalpel. He fascinates. As for the selections, it’s only natural that an instrument without much usage in jazz would first work its way through the repertoire: the bassoon has to pay its dues just as the musicians do. Smith has such profound and imaginative understanding of the music that faulting him for unadventurous material makes absolutely no sense.

Take, for example, “Well You Needn’t.” Smith’s quartet does a straightforward reading of the theme, he and pianist Martin Bejerano harmonizing on the Thelonius Monk melody. It’s deceptively simple: In his solo, Smith makes a full frontal assault on the chords, mapping the harmonic terrain in the jaw-dropping (if scattershot) fashion that Monk’s compositions, in particular, demand.

Smith’s approach, then, is intellectual—but not unemotional. His cock-of-the-walk swagger on “Hary Burner” is humorous and immensely pleasurable, while both “Mood Indigo” and Hank Mobley’s “Home at Last” have a sweet warmth that could evoke either nostalgia or sadness. Then there’s the kicky take on “Summer Samba,” which is just plain fun.

As for the sidemen, bassist John Sullivan is probably the most impressive. He imbues every song (“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” most remarkably) with the harmonic sense that Smith brings to “Well You Needn’t,” although Sullivan avoids the leader’s all-out frenzy and instead picks off notes deliberately, like targets at a gun range. Bejerano’s approach is more lyrical, long strings of melody galloping out of his easy touch. Drummer Ludwig Afonso, swinging with precision as an accompanist, disappoints in his solos. The liners call him “dazzling;” Afonso can dazzle, and has dazzled elsewhere, but here he does not. His work is pedestrian, rhythmically and timbrally uninspired.

The bassoon is not without its shortcomings, either. Smith is too far away from the microphone on the recording, rendering him slightly thin and echo-heavy. It might be intentional, to prevent him from drowning out the rest of the band, but therein lies another problem: there’s no dynamic contour in Smith’s playing. He starts loud, ends loud, and is loud in between, not even softening on ballads. It interferes with the moods of some pieces and even with the meaty ideas he plays in his solo.

Despite these obstacles, though, The Swingin’ Bassoon displays a deeply gifted, thoughtful, and emotive musician in Daniel Smith. The bassoon might not become a permanent staple of jazz, but we can only hope that Smith does — He’s the kind of player that helps the music to thrive.
Michael West


POP MATTERS TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 11 2007

The main drawback of jazz bassoonery is that it doesn’t really match the human voice’s expressive potential. The expressive capacities are restricted. Still, Daniel Smith’s “Mood Indigo” is nicely detached and quirky like one of the bassoon one-offs Illinois Jacquet (which bassoonophils might persuade Prestige records to collect). There’s some perhaps unavoidable suspect pitching with “Home at Last”. (Well done to whoever found this composition and printed due praise of its creator, Hank Mobley.) The solos on bass (bowed) and piano make it apparant why Martin Bejerano and John Sullivan have regular sessions with Roy Haynes. On drums is the admirable Ludwig Afonso. Bejerano and Sullivan set things up nicely for Smith’s entry on “A Night in Tunisia,” and take over most of the number beautifully. The Jazz bassoon does sound less odd after a while. Coming off surprisingly well is Smith version of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t”. (Maybe he’s listened to records of John Coltrane playing Monk.) Smith knows what he’s doing, he’s inside the music (hence nice choices like Sammy Nestico’s “Hay Burner”) and if you don’t like what he does, well, blame the bassoon!

Jazz Dimensions Interview Thursday September 13 2007

Daniel Smith – “Fagottist mit Jazz-Faible”

Wollte er einfach nur widerlegen, dass ein Fagott nur in der Klassik zu Hause sei? Daniel Smith wird dies abstreiten. Aber was soll ein Fagottist mit einer Vorliebe für den Jazz sonst machen: Für sein Jazzquartett “Bassoon and Beyond” holte sich Daniel Smith jedenfalls Mitglieder der “Roy Haynes Band” und von “Spyro Gyra” und konfrontiert sein Publikum in oft zweigeteilten Konzerten zunächst mit Klassik, um es anschließend mit seinem Fagott in jazzige Gefilde zu entführen.

Daniel Smith

Das Naturtalent Smith stammt aus einer Familie ohne ausgesprochenen musikalischen Hintergrund: Initialzündung für seine Karriere war vielmehr eine Fernsehsendung mit Benny Goodman, dessen swingende Klarinette Smith magisch anzog. In Folge beschäftigte er sich aufs Intensivste mit fast allen denkbaren Blasinstrumenten, spielte in Show- und Jazzbands, in Latin Bands und durchlief schließlich auch die klassische Schule. Im Orchester fügte Smith seinem kompletten Saxophoninstrumentarium auch noch Flöte und Kontrafagott hinzu. Sein augenblickliches, und, wie er meint, auch “endgültiges”, Hauptinstrument ist allerdings das Fagott, dessen Einsatz in der Jazzmusik er nun mit Energie vorantreibt. Obwohl er der Klassik “beileibe nicht abgeschworen” hat, sieht er im Jazz seine kommenden Aufgaben: Für einen Fagottisten sei in dieser Richtung reichlich Neuland zu entdecken..

Carina Prange sprach mit Daniel Smith

Carina: Du bist der “meist aufgenommene” Fagottist der Welt – wobei sich dies nicht nur auf den Sektor Jazz bezieht, sondern allgemein zu verstehen ist. Lässt dich deine Fähigkeit, Jazz zu spielen so sehr aus der Masse der anderen Fagottisten, die sich nur in der Klassik ausdrücken, herausragen?

Daniel: Ziemlich gute Frage… Deshalb möchte ich zunächst klarstellen, dass es überall auf der Welt herausragende Fagottisten gibt, wobei die meisten von ihnen in Orchestern arbeiten. Die besten unter ihnen treten auch als Solisten vor das Orchester, wenn sich die Gelegenheit ergibt, oder sind Mitglieder von Kammermusikensembles. Was den Jazz angeht, da kann man die Spieler an einer Hand abzählen, die es zu den höheren Weihen der Improvisation auf dem Fagott gebracht haben. Ich habe mit einer ganzen Reihe von Orchestern gearbeitet, tue dies aber seit einigen Jahren schon nicht mehr. Es erfordert besondere Fähigkeiten, die einen in die Lage versetzen, in der Gruppe zu funktionieren und ich habe Hochachtung vor allen Musikern, die in diesem Bereich gut sind.

Wenn man sich voll und ganz einer Karriere als Solist auf seinem Instrument verschreibt, läuft man Gefahr, als Orchestermusiker nicht mehr tragbar zu sein. Das hat im Wesentlichen damit zu tun, dass man ja einen erkennbaren “Stil” entwickelt, um als Solist mit einem ungewöhnlichen und andersartigem Repertoire glänzen zu können. Bei mir gehört da beispielsweise Ragtime dazu, aber auch Operntranskriptionen, Gesangsstücke oder Jazzstandards. Hat man diesen Weg jedoch erst einmal eingeschlagen, passt die Spielweise nicht mehr zum einheitlichen Stil und Tonfall der Orchestersektion.

Nimmt man noch den Jazz dazu, verstärkt sich das, weil man beginnt, Noten zu verschleifen, Akzente und Glissandi einsetzt und so weiter. Meine Laufbahn hat sich schrittweise vollzogen und überspannt jetzt Klassik, Crossover und Jazz. Damit stehe ich ziemlich einzigartig da, außer mir macht das niemand. Ich kann nur versuchen, mein Bestes zu geben – was ja jeder andere auch tut –, nie stehen zu bleiben, mich stets zu verbessern. Vor allem, was die Jazzimprovisation angeht. Und, bei aller Bescheidenheit, hier liegt der Hauptunterschied, der mich von den “klassischen” Fagottisten abhebt.

Carina: Wenn du so “querbeet” Barockmusik, Jazz, Klassik, Ragtime spielst, stellt das für dich dennoch eine Einheit dar – in Bezug auf die Attitüde, mit der du dich der Musik näherst?

Daniel: Die ist in der Tat weitestgehend die gleiche. Für mich bietet jede Art von Musik die Möglichkeit, ihr meinen individuellen Stempel aufzudrücken. Unterschiede sehe ich da nur in einer Beziehung, was Wynton Marsalis mal in einem Interview wie folgt beschrieben hat: In der Klassik, sagte er, sei man ein “re-creator”, ein Wiedererschaffer der Musik, wohingegen man im Jazz als Musiker selbst der Schöpfer sei, der “creator”. Ich betrachte die Musik nicht aus verschiedenen Warten, gehe mit Marsalis’ Aussage aber zum Teil mit. Zum Beispiel habe ich Edward Elgars “Romance” unzählige Male gespielt und aufgenommen. Irgendwann einmal ist ein klassisches Stück aber “erschöpft”, man hat alles ausgelotet, was man als Musiker in den Ausdruck hineinlegen kann.

Beim Jazz ist das etwas ganz Anderes. Da hat man ja wirklich und wahrhaftig im Vorfeld keine Vorstellung davon, was man so spielen wird, bevor man das Mundstück ansetzt und beginnt, über ein Stück zu improvisieren. Alles und jedes hat Einfluss darauf, was dabei rauskommt – dein körperlicher und seelischer Zustand, die Akkordumkehrungen, die der Pianist wählt, der Ton des Kontrabasses oder die Laune des Schlagzeugers. Aber wenn die Musik “happens”, wenn alles zusammenpasst, dann merkt man das sofort.

Carina: Im Januar 2007 erschien das Album “The Swingin’ Bassoon”. Erzähl mal, worum es da geht…

Daniel: Das “Swingin’ Bassoon”-Album ist für mich etwas Besonderes. Nachdem ich mich in Blues und Bebop umgetan habe – letztes Jahr ist ja “The Bebop Basson” erschienen – widme ich mich verschiedenen Aspekten der Bigband-Ära. Da geht es um Namen wie Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie oder Duke Ellington, es geht um Standards wie von Jonny Mercer, Edward Heyman oder Johnny Green … aber ich lasse auch den Latin-Aspekt nicht außen vor, also Marco und Sergio Valle oder Hank Mobley und es wird ein bisschen “straight ahead” zugehen, wie bei Monk, Dizzy Gillespie oder Charlie Parker. Also ganz spannend.

Carina: Mit anderen Worten entwickelt sich aus deinen “Jazztime”-Alben etwas wie eine Serie. Hast du schon weitere Stilrichtungen im Visier?

Daniel: Ich habe ein paar Sachen im Kopf, ja. Da wäre die Idee, eines Bigband-Tributes “The Big Band Bassoon” oder ein Benny-Goodman Tribute, etwa “Benny on Bassoon” oder “Blues Bassoon” mit Bluesstücken. (lacht) Ich komme immer auf Titel mit vielen “B”s. Aber auch ein Latin-Album fände ich nicht abwegig. Was das Beschreiten von Neuland angeht, habe ich keine Berührungsängste.

Carina: Du hast die kompletten Fagott-Konzerte von Vivaldi aufgenommen, 37 an der Zahl. Warum alle von ihnen und nicht nur die Highlights? Das hat ja sicher viel Zeit und Energie gekostet – was war deine Motivation es zu tun?

Daniel: Oh, das mit Vivaldi war eigentlich ein Zufall! Ich hatte für das Londoner Label ASV gerade ein Album fertiggestellt – Werke verschiedener Komponisten, eingespielt mit dem “English Chamber Orchestra”. Dabei war auch ein Stück von Antonio Vivaldi. Im Abschlussgespräch mit dem Labelchef erwähnte ich beiläufig, dass Vivaldi ja 37 Fagott-Konzerte komponiert hätte, was an Zahl nur von seinen hundert Violinkonzerten übertroffen würde. Und dass noch niemand alle 37 aufgenommen hätte. “Na, dann machen Sie das doch!”, entgegnete er. Ich fiel fast vom Stuhl und fragte, ob das sein Ernst sei. Er meinte, ja, klar. Und so begann etwas, was sich am Ende als ein sechs Jahre andauerndes Projekt herausstellen sollte…

Es war eine gewaltige Kraftanstrengung und ständig gab es das ein oder andere Problemchen zu lösen. Mit dem “English Chamber Orchestra” nahmen wir nur die ersten drei Platten auf, mitten drin wechselten wir zu den “Zagreb Soloists”, die auf den verbleibenden drei Alben zu hören sind. Ein wundervolles Kammerensemble! Ich hatte das Glück, mit ihnen durch England und Irland touren zu können, sodass wir einige Konzerte tatsächlich vor Publikum aufführen konnten, bevor es an die Aufnahmen ging. Eine CD wurde in London aufgenommen, die anderen beiden im “Lisinski Palast” in Zagreb – schlichtweg einer der größten Konzertsäle, den ich je gesehen habe.

Die Aufnahmen des letzten Albums waren überschattet durch den Beginn des Jugoslawienkriegs. Die Bombardierung von Zagreb hatte begonnen, wir konnten nicht einfach von London dorthin fliegen, sondern mussten tagelang auf eine Feuerpause warten. Dann stellte sich raus, dass wir nur zwei Tage Zeit haben würden, um sieben Konzertwerke aufzunehmen! Bis dahin lag unser Rekord bei sechs Konzertwerken – aber in drei Tagen. Noch am Vorabend konnte ich mir nicht vorstellen, wie das zu bewerkstelligen wäre…

Wir fingen morgens um zehn an und hörten erst mitten in der Nacht auf. Ich schluckte Wachmacher und trank literweise Kaffee. Wie durch ein Wunder schafften wir es, das durchzuziehen – der Rest ist Geschichte, wie man so schön sagt. (lacht) Inzwischen hat sich die Reihe zum Bestseller der “Musical Heritage Society” gemausert und die Aufnahmen laufen weltweit auf den Klassikstationen. Vivaldi, wie ich damals merkte – und der Meinung bin ich noch immer – besitzt in seinen dynamischen Passagen eine fast jazzartige Energie und dann wieder, in den langsamen Bewegungen, Melodien von geradezu atemberaubender Lyrik. Seine Musik ist jedoch extrem schwer zu spielen und erfordert höchstes Virtuosentum. Es war eine große Ehre für mich, dieses Projekt durchführen zu dürfen.

Carina: In deinem Elternhaus spielte Musik kaum eine Rolle, wenn man nicht gleich den Begriff “unmusikalisch” verwenden möchte… Hattest du Probleme, deinen Berufswunsch zu vermitteln, oder hat es dich sogar in deiner Entscheidung gefestigt, das allein mit dir selbst abmachen zu müssen?

Daniel: (lacht) Aus einer “unmusikalischen” Familie zu stammen, wünsche ich im Ernst niemand! Mit den Jahren habe ich so viele Musiker kennengelernt, in deren Elternhaus Musik geschätzt wurde und Teil des Lebens war. Mein Vater hingegen hat mich geradezu verleugnet, als er herausfand, dass ich Musiker werden wollte. Es hat Jahre gekostet, darüber hinweg zu kommen. Und warum ich zur Musik kam? Da gibt es den alten Spruch, dass man sich dieses Metier nicht aussucht – es sucht sich dich aus! Eine bessere Erklärung habe ich auch nicht.

Carina: Du hast mit der Klarinette als erstem Instrument angefangen, dann kamen hintereinander Saxophon, Flöte und schließlich Fagott und Kontrafagott. Hatte die Reihenfolge mit der Schwierigkeit der Instrumente zu tun, und hätte man das anders machen können?

Daniel: Nein, da war keine Planung dahinter – das passierte einfach so. Ich war auf allen erwähnten Instrumenten recht gut, habe zwischendrin auch Piccolo, etwas Oboe und sogar Geige gespielt. Auf dem Kontrafagott war ich seinerzeit einer der zwei Instrumentalisten, die Gunther Schullers Kontrafagott-Konzert zu spielen und uraufzuführen in der Lage waren. Zweimal, zu verschiedenen Zeiten, hatte ich die Gelegenheit, mit den New York Philharmonics zu konzertieren – einmal am Piccolo und das andere Mal am Kontrafagott. Also mit jeweils dem höchsten und dem tiefsten Instrument aus der Holzblasinstrumentengattung!

Ich erzähle mal, wie das kam: … kurz nachdem ich meinen Abschluss an der Universität von Columbia gemacht hatte, ging ich zum Militär und wurde erster Piccolo-Spieler in der Band von Westpoint. Während der Zeit traten wir für Aufführungen von Berlioz’ “Symphonie funèbre” ein paarmal mit den New York Philharmonics auf. Viele Jahre später vertrat ich während einer Orchestersaison ihren erkrankten Kontrafagottisten. Quasi die Höhen und Tiefen des Bläserdaseins! (lacht)

Carina: Was ist das Faszinierende am Fagott?

Daniel: Das Instrument gleicht in seinem Spektrum dem Cello oder der menschlichen Stimme – die gleiche Kraft, Emotionalität und Schönheit. Nachdem ich Flöte, Klarinette und die Saxophone früh gemeistert hatte, begann ich mich an das Fagott heranzutasten und sein Potential auszuschöpfen, das von Klassik bis zu Jazz, Blues und anderen Stilistiken reicht. Ich versuche immer, dem Geist der Musik, die ich spiele, gerecht zu werden, ihn einzufangen. Dabei habe ich zwangsläufig eine ganz eigene Spieltechnik entwickelt. Es gibt einige “klassische” Fagottisten die das gar nicht abkönnen – ich nehme an, sie verstehen es einfach nicht. Aber das ist das Risiko, das man eingeht, wenn man sich auf frisches Terrain wagt. Trotzdem, bei den ganzen positiven Stimmen und Kritiken zu Konzerten und Aufnahmen, kann ich ja so falsch nicht liegen.
Carina Prange


BC Music Saturday September 22 2007 Part of Jazz Workshop

It’s easy to be put off by Daniel Smith’s The Swingin’ Bassoon, his second jazz album. It’s a strange instrument (for jazz), and a bass-oriented one that’s being played in a higher register than normal—making strange sounds. On the other extreme, its songs are some of the world’s most overtaxed swing and bebop chestnuts. “Summer Samba?” “A Night in Tunisia?” How worthwhile could it be?

Plenty. Alien though it is, Smith’s bassoon has a charming, anecdotal approach to phrasing, as well as a round, fat sound that still penetrates like a scalpel. He fascinates. As for the selections, it’s only natural that an instrument without much usage in jazz would first work its way through the repertoire: the bassoon has to pay its dues just as the musicians do. Smith has such profound and imaginative understanding of the music that faulting him for unadventurous material makes absolutely no sense.

Take, for example, “Well You Needn’t.” Smith’s quartet does a straightforward reading of the theme, he and pianist Martin Bejerano harmonizing on the Thelonius Monk melody. It’s deceptively simple: In his solo, Smith makes a full frontal assault on the chords, mapping the harmonic terrain in the jaw-dropping (if scattershot) fashion that Monk’s compositions, in particular, demand.

Smith’s approach, then, is intellectual—but not unemotional. His cock-of-the-walk swagger on “Hary Burner” is humorous and immensely pleasurable, while both “Mood Indigo” and Hank Mobley’s “Home at Last” have a sweet warmth that could evoke either nostalgia or sadness. Then there’s the kicky take on “Summer Samba,” which is just plain fun.

As for the sidemen, bassist John Sullivan is probably the most impressive. He imbues every song (“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” most remarkably) with the harmonic sense that Smith brings to “Well You Needn’t,” although Sullivan avoids the leader’s all-out frenzy and instead picks off notes deliberately, like targets at a gun range. Bejerano’s approach is more lyrical, long strings of melody galloping out of his easy touch. Drummer Ludwig Afonso, swinging with precision as an accompanist, disappoints in his solos. The liners call him “dazzling;” Afonso can dazzle, and has dazzled elsewhere, but here he does not. His work is pedestrian, rhythmically and timbrally uninspired.

The bassoon is not without its shortcomings, either. Smith is too far away from the microphone on the recording, rendering him slightly thin and echo-heavy. It might be intentional, to prevent him from drowning out the rest of the band, but therein lies another problem: there’s no dynamic contour in Smith’s playing. He starts loud, ends loud, and is loud in between, not even softening on ballads. It interferes with the moods of some pieces and even with the meaty ideas he plays in his solo.

Despite these obstacles, though, The Swingin’ Bassoon displays a deeply gifted, thoughtful, and emotive musician in Daniel Smith. The bassoon might not become a permanent staple of jazz, but we can only hope that Smith does — He’s the kind of player that helps the music to thrive.
Michael J. West


GEEZER MUSIC CLUB  THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 20 2007

Admittedly, there’s something about the bassoon – maybe the name – that seems to make people smirk a little. And an album titled The Swingin’ Bassoon might elicit a chuckle — after all, when I picked it up I thought it said Swingin’ Baboon. But this new release from bassoonist Daniel Smith on the ZahZah label deserves serious treatment, or at least a good listen.

Everybody has heard of the bassoon, and most probably have a pretty good idea of what it looks like too. They might even know one when they hear it — or maybe not. (It’s been described as sounding like a cross between a trombone and a saxophone, but if you’re really curious there are samples available on the artist’s website, or at Allmusic.)

If you are a little better acquainted with the instrument than the average person, you might know that Daniel Smith is one of the most accomplished soloists around. He’s a talented performer with a rich background in classical music, but has made it his mission in recent years to bring the bassoon to a wider audience. With that in mind, he’s gone in new directions – especially jazz – and his newest album, The Swingin’ Bassoon, reflects that continuing commitment.

It’s mostly a collection of traditional jazz standards reworked for Smith’s instrument, and it follows his success with 2006’s Bebop Bassoon, which did the same for a number of bebop classics. Here he’s accompanied by the same talented musicians, including pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan, and Cuban percussionist Ludwig Afonso.

I love old jazz standards and even though the bassoon sound is very different from what I’m accustomed to hearing, I found myself enjoying this album a lot. For one thing, it cleverly opens with Tommy Dorsey’s theme song, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” which is a good choice since it eases us into the sound of a bassoon in a song famous for a trombone lead. That paves the way for later tunes where Smith’s bassoon subs for more widely varied instruments.

As I listened to the album, I found that I was enjoying the anticipation before each cut, wondering how the sound of a bassoon would impact the mostly familiar tunes. Some translated better than others. For example, Dizzy Gillispie’s “Night In Tunisia” was a perfect fit for the instrument, probably the best of the album, and especially notable for strong work by bassist Sullivan and drummer Afonso.

Another of my favorites was “Summer Samba,” a Latin tune that I’d be willing to bet has never before been performed on bassoon. It turns out to be a great fit, as were most of the selections. About the only one that didn’t work for me was Ellington’s immortal “Mood Indigo,” which just never seemed to smooth out and flow like conventional treatments of the song.

A fascinating and different experience for jazz lovers. Try the samples and see what you think, but as for me, I have a new appreciation for the bassoon — and yes, it can swing.

1. I’m Getting Sentimental Over You
2. Well You Needn’t
3. Hay Burner
4. Scrapple from the Apple
5. Mood Indigo
6. Summer Samba
7. Out of Nowhere
8. St. Thomas
9. I Remember You
10. Home at Last
11. Night in Tunisia


LIVE @ Concert Jazz Club -28th Nov 2007

Unique Jazz Artist in Performance

– supporting artists to be confirmed

Daniel Smith The leading pioneer of the bassoon with his many critically acclaimed award-winning recordings and live performances. As the most recorded bassoon soloist in the world, his repertoire spans music ranging from Baroque concerti to contemporary music including jazz, ragtime and crossover. He is the only bassoonist performing and recording in both the jazz and classical fields. Daniel Smith’s unique career has been profiled in Gramophone, the New York Times, Fanfare, Classical Music, Musical Heritage Review, American Record Guide, Classic CD and many leading European publications including The Times in England. In the USA, his career was highlighted on PBS’s “All Things Considered’. In the UK, one of his recordings was the ‘signature tune’ for BBC Radio 3 while BBC Radio 4 recently showcased his career.
Daniel Smith’s performances include jazz with his quartet ‘Bassoon and Beyond’, classical recitals with piano, concertos with orchestra, and highly popular programs divided between classical and jazz, with music ranging from Vivaldi, Elgar, Mozart and Verdi to Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie. Described as a ‘phenomenon’, he has been called the ‘Gerry Mulligan of the Bassoon’ in the world of jazz and the ‘Galway’ and ‘Rampal of the Bassoon’ in the world of classical music, bringing his unique sound and style to concert series, festivals and jazz clubs.


‘Bassoon and Beyond’

Jazz Quartet

In working with a jazz piano trio in order to adapt the bassoon to an all-jazz standards setting, Smith is extremely comfortable with the concept and the results, even if the instrument does not treat all of the Jazz Standards equally. For example, on Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk,” the mournful sound of the bassoon is just perfect to demonstrate how well the concept works.

Daniel is Touring Europe with dates throughout Europe in 2008 and is looking for opportunities to play UK Venues.  The open dates for UK Bookings in October 2008 are yet to be confirmed but please register your interest for consideration in this imminent Tour.


Recordings – Jazz CD’s

Daniel Smith has invested a lot of time and energy to bring the repertoire of the bassoon into ragtime, jazz and contemporary music. Smith has recorded such titles as Bassoon Bon Bons, Bravo Bassoon and The Swinging Bassoon, as well as performances of Gunther Schuller’s “Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra” and Steve Gray’s “Jazz Suite For Bassoon and Orchestra.” As a result of his many and diverse bassoon recordings, he has received considerable media attention for his efforts. In 2005, composter/arranger Robert Farnon dedicated his final composition to Smith: “Romancing the Phoenix,” a three-movement bassoon concerto with rhythm section and symphony orchestra in a jazz setting.

In working with a jazz piano trio in order to adapt the bassoon to an all-jazz standards setting, Smith is extremely comfortable with the concept and the results, even if the instrument does not treat all of the titles equally. For example, on Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk,” the mournful sound of the bassoon is just perfect to demonstrate how well the concept works. However, when he tackles Horace Silver’s “Sister Sadie,” the funky classic sounds too artificial. The ballad and blues entries, like the Miles Davis “All Blues” or the Ellington piece “In a Sentimental Mood” are sympatico with the use of bassoon as a lead instrument—as is the case with such bebop classics as “Killer Joe,” the Parker/Gillespie tune ”Anthropology” and Sonny Rollins’ “Doxy.” In an interesting departure from this format, Daniel Smith provides an experiment in adapting Coltrane’s “Up Against the Wall” to fit a piano-less group of bassoon, bass and drums. Otherwise, Smith is well supported by the trio of Martin Bejerano (piano), John Sullivan (bass) and Ludwig Afonso (drums)


Dan on Jazz Improvisation on the Bassoon

I would like also to bring up the subject of unusual and different music which can be performed on the bassoon and also jazz. Ragtime if executed with the right feeling can sound very natural on the instrument, as does a large amount of ‘crossover’ material including transcriptions of music normally performed on other instruments as well as orchestral pieces. As for playing jazz on the bassoon several years ago, Steve Gray composed a work for me entitled ‘Jazz Suite’ which I had the honour of performing with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra. The piece contained improvisational spots and which forced me to plunge in and get serious about playing real jazz on the instrument. I was already a virtuoso so to speak but all of my technical skills were of no help whatsoever in learning how to play jazz in a serious way. I had to methodically learn to play extended chords and scales from top to bottom on the instrument and in all keys. This included many scales and chords which do not appear in classical music. And then to place all ideas exactly where the underlying chords are heard and of course to ‘hear’ musical ideas many measures before you execute them. This took me about four years to accomplish and along the way my arms became very sore and stiff from the effort. But then suddenly the ideas flowed and the soreness stopped… everything just flowed! All the musical ideas made sense and can now perform a full two hour jazz concert without using any music and with a repertoire of nearly one hundred jazz pieces to pick from including bebop, swing, Latin, blues, ballads, etc.

Finally, the bassoon must be amplified when performing jazz, otherwise it would not be heard above a rhythm section, let along a full symphony orchestra. I have a special microphone attached to my crook/bocal which makes this possible. When Robert Farnon found this out, he was much relieved knowing that his music would be clearly heard above the orchestra in his bassoon concerto, And as for developing a jazz style on the instrument, there are no real role models from the past to learn from such as Armstrong, Gillespie or Davis on trumpet or Parker, Getz or Rollins on saxophone. It is all pioneering stuff and I am very pleased to be involved in such ground breaking efforts and of course with the bassoon concerto of Robert Farnon as a fitting memorial to his memory and talent.

.Daniel Smith’s latest recordings, BEBOP BASSOON and THE SWINGIN’ BASSOON are to be released on the Zah Zah label. Featuring a top US rhythm section (pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Afonso), the two CDs were recorded ‘back-to-back’ and up until now have been only available from Daniel’s management where they were enthusiastically received by jazz critics worldwide.

Reviews –
Bassoonist Daniel Smith switch hits from classical to swing to hard bop on this rewarding studio set. Other than some choice solos by pianist Martin Bejerano, the quartet stays in the background, providing support to Smith’s amazingly fluid lines, which shine forth through a set of jazz standards. You can just imagine saxophonist Charlie Parker on bassoon during the band’s take on “Scrapple From The Apple.” Here and throughout, Smith’s spiky phrasings are balanced by brisk runs fortified by lots of pop, zip and seemingly effortless control.
Enhanced by a varied mix of tunes, the album is much more than a novelty excursion. On “Summer Samba,” the leader is well paired by Bejerano’s upper register choruses, the duo’s blithe unison passages running atop a delicate samba pulse. Smith’s imaginative and technically impressive performances are complemented by his band-mates’ deft touch and judicious use of dynamics.  – Glenn Astarita – allaboutjazz

I’ll admit something, I was not quite prepared for this album that was called The Swingin’ Bassoon (Zah Zah/Guild). Can a bassoon swing, I found myself asking, and would I be surprised to hear one? I was very surprised.
Daniel Smith has a classical background, but knows that if you have the heart and determination, you can make any instrument fit into the jazz mould, especially when in jazz the moulds are destroyed and remade on a regular basis. Jazz has often flirted with classical music and instruments, as musicians have wanted to test the music and their own limits. For the most part those experiments have worked very well, and with Smith it works superbly.
Smith’s bassoon begins the album, and at first it sounds like a classical recording. It takes about 25 seconds before he and the band break it down, as they do in “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”. Immediately you sense that there’s a different dynamic going on, but it works. Smith gets into a groove by playing Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”, and the creativity continues throughout, with creative renditions of songs by Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker (you have to hear “Scrapple From The Apple” to believe it), and Hank Mobley.
Helping out Smith on the album are Ludwig Afonso (drums), John Sullivan (bass), and Martin Bejerano, who can definitely read all of Smith’s mannerisms in the studio and also get to strut their stuff as they back him up. The piano work of Bejerano was very impressive and reminded me a bit of McCoy Tyner.
The Swingin’ Bassoon sounds like one of those after-hours albums where everyone has gone home and you’re in it for the spirit of the jam and the people in the room jamming with you. A bassoon may not be the first instrument one thinks about, but if it’s there and a musician can play, bring it on. Smith brings his best to the table and accomplishes his mission by making the unconventional sound like it is part of the norm. John Book
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 humour 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 intriguing 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.   – John Sunier

The bassoon is primarily relegated to providing background colours within a symphony orchestra, but much like the late Eric Dolphy turned the bass clarinet into a lead instrument in a small group jazz setting, Daniel Smith intends to establish his ungainly woodwind as a jazz instrument. Smith’s  second CD as a leader for the English label Zah Zah features pianist Martin Bergerano  bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Afonso , who make up a potent rhythm section. Smiths  programme is an ambitious one, digging into standards, swing, bop, hard bop and more. The ballads and slower standards work best, allowing Smith to insert more space between notes. But with faster tempi in pieces like “Scrapple From the Apple” work against him, simply because it is hard to for him to articulate when switching from one note to another when they are close together, unlike the bass clarinet, which can better project sound without blurring the distinctiveness of each note. In any case, Smith proves his point that the bassoon has more potential than simply being relegated to providing background colour.  ~Ken Dryden, All Music Guide
Bassoon-focused covers of Swing chestnuts may at first seem foolhardy, if ballsy. Yet Smith has already lugged his ax into the studio to record a set of Bop tunes on bassoon, so this is a more snug, if still daring, fit. Aside from an obscure Hank Mobley tune (“Home at Last”) the set list is not that adventurous, with Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Basie, and Charlie Parker represented by more or less signature tunes. The take on Parker’s “Scrapple in the Apple” deserves props just because the song itself is so damn challenging no matter the instrument. For the most part, though, this is what you might expect: straight-ahead swing arrangements, but with bassoon. Drummer Ludwig Alfonso sure does swing, and John Sullivan on bass anchors the tunes. While at first listen, each song kicks in with the familiar structure of swing with the jarring addition of the bassoon, making each track walk a tight-rope right off the bat: will this really swing, or is this a novelty? Smith’s chops and warm knowledge of these classics does make them swing, and while there is humour in his lines, it does not come unintentionally or as a gimmick. This is a sincere set, if one that takes your ears some time to really dig it. — Mike Wood (14 August, 2007)

Bassoon – Woodwind Instrument
The beginning of the bassoon is similar to the oboe.
The bassoon itself first appeared about 1650, and by the end of the 1700’s, it had from 4 to 8 keys.
During the 1800’s, many people experimented with improving the fingering of the bassoon.
Most of the changes helped the fingering, but made the tone of the instrument suffer.
The Heckel  family of Germany managed to improve the fingering of the bassoon without damaging its tone.
Many professionals today play bassoons made by the Heckel Company.


MazzMuzikaS Free-zine 78

Na Bepop Bassoon, de eerste poging van de gereputeerde klassieke fagottist Daniel Smith om zijn verduiveld moeilijk en stroef instrument te doen ‘swingen’, is dit de tweede jazz cd van de man. Samen met zijn vaste ritmesectie (Martin Bejerano, John Sullivan en Ludwig Alfonso) tackelt hij hier Thelonious Monks Well You Needn’t, Charlie Parkers Scrapple From The Apple, Duke Ellingtons Mood Indigo en Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night In Tunesia, samen met een aantal andere standards uit het moderne jazzrepertoire. Het dient gezegd, hij slaagt wonderwel in zijn opzet. Weinigen deden het hem voor en wij betwijfelen of er nog veel in zijn voetspoor zullen treden. In tegenstelling tot bijvoorbeeld de basklarinet, de fluit of de hoorn blijkt het geluid dat de fagot voortbrengt zich nauwelijks te lenen tot een solorol in het bop- of swinggenre. Wat Smith hier vooral presteert, is een feilloze imitatie van de saxofoon op een instrument dat zich daar nauwelijks toe leent en bovendien extreem korrelige tonen voortbrengt. Dit levert vooral enkele virtuoze uithalen en briljante huzarenstukjes op, maar echt mooi klinkt het niet. Daarbij komt nog dat de Duitse fagot die Daniel Smith hier bespeelt de warmte mist van zijn Franse tegenhanger. Wij vinden dit een fantastisch plaatje als het gaat om muzikaal vakmanschap en in dat opzicht zou dit werk best wel een behoorlijk aantal jazzfreaks kunnen bekoren. Liefhebbers echter die minder begaan zijn met technische hoogstandjes en veeleer naar schoonheid in de jazz op zoek gaan, zullen het hier moeilijker mee hebben en het eentonige timbre van de fagot snel beu geraken. Toch raden we ook hen aan even, al was het maar uit nieuwsgierigheid, hun oor te luisteren te leggen bij de unieke performer die Daniel Smith toch wel is. (RD) Marc NOLIS – Editor/Owner Van Erstenstraat 24, B-2100 Deurne, Belgium

JAZZTO CA Wednesday August 22 2007

I’m not going to lie to you, I cracked a smile when Daniel Smith’s The Swingin’ Bassoon arrived in my mail box. Truthfully, my experience of the Bassoon in the past has pretty much started and ended with the recording of Peter and the Wolf that we listened to to in the forth grade.
However I resigned to come to this with an open mind, and after doing a little research online began to realize just how unique the concept of improvising on the bassoon is.

”I believe that the main reason for jazz on the bassoon being such a rarity lies in the very nature of the instrument. Not only is it difficult to master, as most woodwind players would readily acknowledge, but in addition one would have to shed all preconceived notions as to how to successfully play jazz on the instrument. Assuming someone is already an accomplished player, in essence they would have to wear two ‘hats’, that is to keep a legitimate or conservatory trained concept in place when performing in an orchestra or ensemble, and then switching over to another way of thinking and playing when entering the world of jazz.”

The Swingin’ Bassoon is Daniels follow up to Bebop Bassoon and for this recording Daniel takes the listener through standards including I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Scrapple From The Apple, St. Thomas and A Night In Tunisia, and along the way does a pretty convincing job of setting the standard for any future jazz on bassoon. Yes this bassoon is swingin’ and the party is just qetting started.


Morning Maniac Music Play List Sunday August 19 2007

Set Two
Daniel Smith; Mood Indigo; The Swingin’ Bassoon (2007 Guild)
Sophie Millman; Rocket Love; Make Someone Happy (2007 Linus)
Ragan Whiteside; Gonna Fly; Class Axe (2007 Randis)
Lisa Hilton; Both Sides Now; The New York Sessions (2007 Ruby Slippers)
[mic break 11:00 a.m.]

Set Four
Daniel Smith; Home at Last; The Swingin’ Bassoon (2007 Guild)
Daniel Smith; A Night in Tunisia; The Swingin’ Bassoon (2007 Guild)
Pledge break
Joey DeFrancesco; I Get a Kick Out of You; Plays Sinatra His Way (2004 Highnote)
Ratdog; Two Djinn>Stuff; 8/11/2007 Gathering of the Vibes
Derek Trucks; This Sky; Songlines (2006 Sony)
Darrell Scott; Folsom Prison/White Freightliner Blues; Live in NC (2006 Full Light)
[mic break 1:34 a.m.]


Foxy Digitalis Tuesday August 14 2007

Bassoon-focused covers of Swing chestnuts may at first seem foolhardy, if ballsy. Yet Smith has already lugged his ax into the studio to record a set of Bop tunes on bassoon, so this is a more snug, if still daring, fit.

Aside from an obscure Hank Mobley tune (“Home at Last”) the set list is not that adventurous, with Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Basie, and Charlie Parker represented by more or less signature tunes. The take on Parker’s “Scrapple in the Apple” deserves props just because the song itself is so damn challenging no matter the instrument. For the most part, though, this is what you might expect: straight-ahead swing arrangements, but with bassoon. Drummer Ludwig Alfonso sure does swing, and John Sullivan on bass anchors the tunes. While at first listen, each song kicks in with the familiar structure of swing with the jarring addition of the bassoon, making each track walk a tight-rope right off the bat: will this really swing, or is this a novelty? Smith’s chops and warm knowledge of these classics does make them swing, and while there is humor in his lines, it does not come unintentionally or as a gimmick. This is a sincere set, if one that takes your ears some time to really dig it. 5/10
Mike Wood


Music For America Monday August 13 2007

I’ll admit something, I was not quite prepared for this album that was called The Swingin’ Bassoon (Zah Zah/Guild). Can a bassoon swing, I found myself asking, and would I be surprised to hear one? I was very surprised.

Daniel Smith has a classical background, but knows that if you have the heart and determination, you can make any instrument fit into the jazz mold, especially when in jazz the molds are destroyed and remade on a regular basis. Jazz has often flirted with classical music and instruments, as musicians have wanted to test the music and their own limits. For the most part those experiments have worked very well, and with Smith it works superbly.

Smith’s bassoon begins the album, and at first it sounds like a classical recording. It takes about 25 seconds before he and the band break it down, as they do in “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”. Immediately you sense that there’s a different dynamic going on, but it works. Smith gets into a groove by playing Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”, and the creativity continues throughout, with creative renditions of songs by Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker (you have to hear “Scrapple From The Apple” to believe it), and Hank Mobley.

Helping out Smith on the album are Ludwig Afonso (drums), John Sullivan (bass), and Martin Bejerano, who can definitely read all of Smith’s mannerisms in the studio and also get to strut their stuff as they back him up. The piano work of Bejerano was very impressive and reminded me a bit of McCoy Tyner.

The Swingin’ Bassoon sounds like one of those after-hours albums where everyone has gone home and you’re in it for the spirit of the jam and the people in the room jamming with you. A bassoon may not be the first instrument one thinks about, but if it’s there and a musician can play, bring it on. Smith brings his best to the table and accomplishes his mission by making the unconventional sound like it is part of the norm.
Da Bookman

(The Swingin’ Bassoon will be released on October 1st.)


ALL MUSIC GUIDE SATURDAY AUGUST 11 2007

The bassoon is primarily relegated to providing background colors within a symphony orchestra, but much like the late Eric Dolphy turned the bass clarinet into a lead instrument in a small group jazz setting, Daniel Smith intends to establish his ungainly woodwind as a jazz instrument. Smith’s second CD as a leader for the English label Zah Zah features pianist Martin Bejeramo, bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Afonso, who make up a potent rhythm section. Smith’s program is an ambitious one, digging into standards, swing, bop, hard bop and more. The ballads and slower standards work best, allowing Smith to insert more space between notes. But piece with faster tempi in pieces like “Scrapple From the Apple” work against him, simply because it is hard to for him to articulate when switching from one note to another when they are close together, unlike the bass clarinet, which can better project sound without blurring the distinctiveness of each note. In any case, Smith proves his point that the bassoon has more potential than simply being relegated to providing background color, even if his project isn’t a complete success.
Ken Dryden

Animajazz Italy – Saturday 04 August 2007

La puntata n° 269 di “ANIMAJAZZ”, in onda Martedi 7 Agosto dalle 23 alle 24 su PUNTORADIO, in diretta web su: www.puntoradio.fm si aprirà con la musica di DANIEL SMITH (nella foto in alto a sinistra) che con il suo Quartet (Daniel Smith, fagotto, Martin Bejerano, piano, John Sullivan, contrabbasso, Ludwig Afonso, batteria) ci proporrà una sua particolare interpretazione di “St. Thomas” (S.Rollins).

All about Jazz Saturday August 04 2007

Bassoonist Daniel Smith switch hits from classical to swing to hard bop on this rewarding studio set. Other than some choice solos by pianist Martin Bejerano, the quartet stays in the background, providing support to Smith’s amazingly fluid lines, which shine forth through a set of jazz standards. You can just imagine saxophonist Charlie Parker on bassoon during the band’s take on “Scrapple From The Apple.” Here and throughout, Smith’s spiky phrasings are balanced by brisk runs fortified by lots of pop, zip and seemingly effortless control.

Enhanced by a varied mix of tunes, the album is much more than a novelty excursion. On “Summer Samba,” the leader is well paired by Bejerano’s upper register choruses, the duo’s blithe unison passages running atop a delicate samba pulse. Smith’s imaginative and technically impressive performances are complemented by his band-mates’ deft touch and judicious use of dynamics.
Glen Astarita


Audiophile Audition Tuesday July 24 2007

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.

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


H&B RECORDINGS DIRECT  JULY 19 2007

‘Smith’s expertise really makes the bassoon sound right at home in these be-bop classics. This is real jazz, and not just a novelty disc’. Album Remarks & Appraisals

DRUMRADIO SHOW @ DrumRadio.com Wednesday July 18 2007

Daniel Smith is a marvelous musician & if anyone can swing a Bassoon he can. I found the music very interesting and unique but most of all enjoyable!! Daniel Smith music should be more available to younger musicians because his ideas are different, his music is wonderful and younger musicians need to know that with any instrument , music and limitations are endless. If you can swing a bassoon , you can swing anything!

Please confer my thoughts to Daniel Smith he’s one hell of Bassoonists!!!

With your permission I would like to play some of the cd on my show & talk it up.Let me know.
Rick Kiss


JB Spins Wednesday July 18 2007

When you maintain a jazz blog, you get some random questions from distant places. Now, for those asking for a good jazz bassoon rendition of “Summer Samba” your answer is here. Indeed, many unusual instruments have found a place in jazz. Given the tradition of jazz oboe established by the likes of Yusef Lateef and Bob Cooper, let alone the more unlikely jazz bagpipes of Rufus Harley, it seems strange that there has been little jazz love for the bassoon until recently. Daniel Smith has been blazing that trail, as evidenced by his new CD The Swingin’ Bassoon.

It is on the swing standards that the bassoon best adapts to jazz, as on the opening track, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.” It is particularly effective carrying the melancholy introduction. Smith proves an inventive improviser on his instrument, backed by an excellent rhythm section, including Martin Bejerano on piano and John Sullivan on bass, both veterans of Roy Haynes groups, as well as Cuban born Ludwig Afonso on drums.

“Hay Burner” is an easy swinging Basie standard that also well suits Smith’s bassoon, in an arrangement that retains the good humor and economy of the big band original. Again, Smith and Bejerano craft engaging solos in a pleasing mid-tempo workout.

Bop burners like “Scrapple from the Apple” offer a real challenge to the bassoon. (Charlie Parker remains a stiff test for any instrument.) Smith faces up to it pretty well, and Bejerano shows his bop chops well. However, it is on melodic swing standards, like “Mood Indigo,” that really match up well with Smith’s bassoon. The famous late night bluesy opening notes of the Ellington standard sound great here—it might be the showcase tune that best makes the case for the bassoon as a vehicle for jazz improvisation.

As for “Summer Samba,” it is actually one of the better up-tempo tunes on Bassoon. It might sound like a poppy (bordering on dated) song, but there are inventive solos from Smith, Sullivan, and Bejerano. It is followed by “Out of Nowhere,” which again proves a good fit as a mid-tempo tune with a good measure of moodiness. The same is true of “Home at Last,” a shrewd tune choice from the still under-appreciated Hank Mobley, inspiring some of Smith’s best soloing.

Bassoon is an unusual and entertaining set of small group swing. In all likelihood, it will not inspire an army of jazz bassoonists, but it does establish a good niche for Smith.
Joe Bendel


MIDWEST RECORD Volume 30/Number 259 July 17, 2007

DANIEL SMITH/Swingin’ Bassoon: The most widely recorded classical bassoon  player loves to kick off his shoes, leave the office behind and jazz it up on bassoon.  His second outing finds him moving from bebop on his last date to swing now.  Bringing bassoon to tracks like “St. Thomas”, you know this is a player that isn’t afraid to expose himself even if he’s out for kicks.
Coming to this session without the baggage of the typical jazzbo, Smith doesn’t make an issue of his classical background and simply blows up a storm.  Must listening for people looking for something different that won’t leave them stranded. 9824 (Zah Zah) CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher

Anemajazz Tuesday July 17 2007

DANIEL SMITH suona con grande naturalezza. Lo accompagnano Martin Bejerano al piano, John Sullivan al contrabbasso e Ludwig Afonso alla batteria e ci potremo ascoltare “Sister Sadie”, una composizione di Horace Silver, tratta dal CD “Bebop Bassoon” (nella foto in alto a destra).

MUSICA BLACK. COM TUESDAY JULY 17 2007

While the title The Swingin’Bassoon may seem to some to be a contradiction of terms, those familiar with the work of Daniel Smíth are well aware of the fact that he does indeed swing on that difficult and unwieldy horn. The world’s most recorded bassoon soloist, well known in classical music circles for his unprecedented recording of all 37 of the Vivaldi bassoon concertos, Smith amazed listeners with his cd Bebop Bassoon, on which he performed compositions by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and other classic pieces from the contemporary jazz repertoire. In a genre where having one’s own sound is of paramount importance Smith can truly lay claim to possessing a unique voice.

On The Swingin’Bassoon, Smith is once again joined by the same swinging rhythm section that accompanied him on his bebop outing. Pianist Martin Bejerano, best known for his tenure with the great Roy Haynes Quartet, is a leader in his own right, who has his own trio cd, Evolution/Revolution, on the Reservoir label. John Sullivan recorded and performed regularly with Bejerano in the Haynes’ band and is well known on the New York jazz scene for his solid bass work. Cuban born drummer Ludwig Afonso, who originally made his mark on the international music scene with the inventive fusion group Spyro Gyra, has recorded with Bejerano and Latin Jazz percussionist Sammy Figueroa.

The Swingin’Bassoon begins appropriately enough with a swing era staple, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” the George Bassman composition that for many years served as the theme song of trombonist Tom Dorsey’s big band. Smith’s arrangement turns the famous piece on its side, starting off with a rubato reading of the piece’s last eight bars accompanied by Bejerano, before stating the well known melody with the quartet. Smith, Bejerano and Sullivan all have solos, before the group plays the head out. The track concludes with the same bassoon/piano duo declaration of the final eight bars that started the tune.

Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” is one of the iconoclastic planist’s most beloved straight ahead pieces, as well as one of his most recorded compositions. The whimsical nature of the tune makes it particularly well suited for the bassoon’s sound and Smith really shows his stuff, demonstrating his virtuoso technique on this up tempo rendition of the bebop classic. Bejerano has a wonderfully Monkish solo and Sullivan does some impressive walking on bass.

Smith pays tribute to swing era master Count Basie with his laid back reading of Sammy Nestico’s “Hay Burner.” This track demonstrates the bassoonist’s remarkable Lyricism, both in his statement of the melody and on his impressive improvisation. Bejerano ends the song with the classic Count “one more once” three note tag.

Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple From The Apple” is a difficult bebop line to navigate on any instrument, but Smith is undeterred by the songs labyrinthine chord changes and takes them at an uptempo even brisker than the original. The bassoonist actually reproduces the composer’s own classic saxophone solo note for note (an amazing feat for the bassoon) before launching into his own improvisation, which flows naturally from Bird’s and even paraphrases “Yardbird Suite” in
the release. Bejerano gets a work out too before joining Smith in a series of four bar exchanges with Afonso’s drums.

The rich harmony of Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” brings out the rarely recognized inherent beauty of the bassoon’s sound. The haunting melody gives Smith an opportunity to display the mournful qualities of his horn’s tone on what he describes as “a most beautiful composition by one of the great American composers of the 20th Century.”

“Summer Samba,” by Marcos Valle, is one of the most delightfully charming pieces in Brazilian music. First popularized instrumentally by lounge” organíst Walter Wanderley, who propelled it into the US Top 40, the song later entered the American pop music songbook with the title “How Nice.” Smith demonstrates a genuine feeling for the South American rhythm on this version, which features an appealing bass outing by Sullivan in between the bassoonist’s and Bejerano’s solos.

Bejerano begins “Out of Nowhere,” the well worn standard favored by jazz instrumentalists from Sidney Bechet and Coleman Hawkins to Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, with a pretty piano prelude that repeats the composition’s last four bars. Smith plays the melody convincingly with the quartet and then launches into a swinging solo that at one point cleverly quotes “The Mexican Hat Dance.” Bejerano follows with another fine solo before the quartet takes it out.

Afonso kicks off “St. Thomas” with a short drum intro and then duets with Smith for a chorus before the bassoon plays the popular Sonny Rollins head with the quartet. Oddly enough, on this piece one hears that it is Rollins uniquely persona] sound that Smith’s horn most closely resembles in tone.

Johnny Mercer’s “i Remember You” is another page out of the Great American Songbook. Smith again show just how lyrical a player he is on this uptempo rendítion of the classic standard that includes a melodic pizzicato bass solo by Sullivan and some tasty Bejerano piano.

“Home At Last” is a rarely heard piece by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, first recorded by the composer as the last movement of a suite on his Thinking Of Home album. Smith is right at home on this pretty bossa nova, as is Sullivan who shows his mastery of the arco bass with an impressive bowed solo.

The date ends with one of the all time bebop classics, Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night In Tunisía.” The song begins with the traditional piano vamp, which is augmented with the well known bass ostinato before Smith comes in with the melody. The quartet swings like mad on this jazz favorite to close out the date.

Through the years a number of truly innovative jazz players have introduced new instruments to genre. The flute, violin, French horn, bass clarinet, and harmonica were all originally thought to be unsuited to the idiom, but eventually found important roles to play in the right hands. With The Swingín’ Bassoon Daniel Smith proudly adds that horn to the creative category that Downbeat refers to as “miscellaneous instruments” in its yearly polls.


Jazz Action Productions Australia – Sunday July 15 2007

Hello from Sydney, Australia.  Thank you for sampling me Daniel Smith’s very interesting CD.  A fresh sound to the realms of jazz.  The recording reminds me of sixty years ago when Stan Kenton included in his orchestra a French Horn player by the name of John Graas, who went on to lead his own group and recorded several LPs. Thanks again Jim for your generosity. Dick Hughes Community Radio Broadcaster

A Ultima Fronteira Radio – spain – July 2007

“The Swingin’ Bassoon” is Daniel Smith’s latest album, a musician now well established in the world of jazz. On this CD he interprets classic pieces by such greats as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie among many others. His accompanists hold their own on this task; he’s in the company of Martin Bejerano (piano), John Sullivan (bass) and Ludwig Alfonso (drums), an excellent group to create a great ensemble with an exquisite sound for total enjoyment of such great jazz.”
Roberto Vales