This is the second CD led by brilliant bassist/composer Sean Smith and featuring his long-term working band. Recorded with high-resolution DSD technology, with no production edits or musician headphones, the sound of Poise is warm, clean, and very naturalistic. It showcases 13 of Smith's tuneful, non-derivative originals, rendered by five superb musicians in a variety of formats. For example, guitar and piano alternate as the fourth member of the quartet, Smith's soulful bass leads "A Blues for Donald" with just guitar accompaniment, and the closing "Art Song" is an elegant piano solo. The arrangements are cool, the ballads moody and gorgeous. "Nobody's Hoedown" is full of wry humor, while an old cowboy tune gets a free jazz makeover in "Red Rivers and Valleys/Appendix." Other highlights include the decidedly undepressed "Tropical Depression," the film noir feel of "Hugging the Edges," and the deeply moving "Gratitude in the Minor," with Alan Mezquida's eloquent, primal sax and a beautiful Bill Charlap solo punctuated by a stunning moment when the group seems to hold its collective breath. The delicate mix of Keith Ganz' guitar and Russell Meissner's brushes on "Poise," the horn/bass weave on "Short Ballad," and the flat-out "Wise Guys," with great, whirling solos by all concerned, are also noteworthy. True to its title -- which also means "equilibrium" -- this CD is a balance of contrasts. Both sophisticated and emotional, intricate and uncluttered, it reveals richer artistry with each spin. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Judith Schlesinger