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