Because most of his recordings in the final two decades of the 20th century were made for the European label Steeplechase, trumpeter Louis Smith has been overlooked by jazz critics and fans in his homeland. But the Memphis native still has plenty of bop chops, as he proves on this exciting session. The musicians accompanying him include the talented alto saxophonist Jon Gordon (winner of the 1996 Thelonious Monk competition), pianist Michael Weiss, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Smith and Gordon navigate the tricky changes to the leader's intricate up-tempo "Val's Blues," while the long but enjoyable interpretation of "A Ghost of a Chance" finds Smith at his most lyrical. Clifford Brown's "Sweet Clifford," a reworking of the perennial favorite "Sweet Georgia Brown," serves as a furious set closer. The Bopsmith is still quite a craftsman as he approaches the age of 70.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden