Veteran David Kikoski has long been deserving of wider recognition. In spite of a sizable discography, Live at Smalls is one of his few recordings as a leader for an American label. Joining him for this club outing are bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Obed Calvaire, both of whom provide strong support. Kikoski tackles two jazz standards, starting with a pulsating long workout of Joe Henderson's sizzling "Inner Urge," showcasing all three musicians in top form. Their subtly hip take of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" is an understated affair that allows plenty of space. Kikoski's compositions merit praise as well. The theme of his lighthearted "Dirty Dogs" is immediately infectious, a post-bop number with a Latin undercurrent. The brooding nature of "7/4 Ballad" is a sharp contrast to the remainder of the set, a poignant song that deserves to have lyrics. Kikoski's tension-filled "Grey Areas" is another fine extended workout that closes this memorable set.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden