of the Month: Bebop Bassoon
"Daniel Smith spans classical and jazz, but here it
is pure bop with a great ensemble of young lions. Smile,
it's a bassoon"
Smith's CD, 'Bebop Bassoon' is unique, imaginative and refreshing.
It's getting good airplay here at the Jazz Café here
- Bob Levoy, Hempstead, Long Island, NY.
well played....I will stun my audience with a bassoon!"
- Jack Simpson, Jazz On The Beach - WUCF-FM Orlando,
Florida & WFIT-FM, Melbourne, Florida.
is rather unusual for the lead in a jazz quartet to come
from a bassoon. Daniel Smith opened our minds and ears to
a joyful experience in this regard. He's teamed with pianist
Martin Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan and Ludwig Afonso
on drums. They are well polished on ten strong jazz classics.
'Blue Monk',' Killer Joe' and 'All Blues' are highlights.
But again it is the swinging arrangements and unique sound
of Smith on bassoon that makes this a worthy addition to
- D. Oscar Groomes
[O's Place Jazz Newsletter, Naperville, Illinois]
Smith swings with hearty passion alongside acoustic piano
intros that provide a terrific job in setting up standard
jazz pieces such as 'Sister Sadie', Birk's Works', 'All
Blues', and 'Doxy'. His virtuosity and the quartet's swinging
background provide an interesting outlook for jazz. Ballads
and blues work best for this sensitive artist and his deep-throated
instrument. Best are the quartet's shared swingers that
enfold all four voices with a heartfelt spirit. 'Killer
Joe' drives with direct strength and allows all four artists
to shine brightly. 'Blue Monk' sparkles with an easygoing
ramble, John Coltrane's 'Up Against the Wall' taken at a
moderate tempo allows Smith to exhibit the agility that
he's proven on this instrument. Unusual for jazz, but swinging
nevertheless, Smith's bassoon offers straight ahead anthems
- Jim Santella, L.A. Jazz Scene
double reed instrument to play bebop on must be most difficult.
Who would've 'thunk it'- a bassoon playing bebop that sounds
like an integral musical instrument belonging within the
confines of this hard-to-play ouevre. What a pleasure to
hear a new voice bringing up the bottom notes of KILLER
JOE, BIRK'S WORKS, SISTER SADIE, and other standards for
which Dizzy Gillespie and his compadres would be proud!
The whole quartet seems made for this outing but one must
also point out the outstanding play of pianist Martin Bejerano,
a name to be reckoned with in the near future. Congratulations
to Daniel Smith for bringing a new and exciting sound into
the jazz fold."
Jazz Host, KETR, Public Radio, Texas A&M University,
bassoon is an instrument not normally associated with jazz,
but in the immensely capable hands of Daniel Smith, it shines!
Smith, a classically trained musician, has taken what many
consider one of the most difficult instruments to play and
blows on bebop tunes with ease. He is a musician with a
bright future in the jazz scene arena."
Steve Rubin, 'Stolen Moments', KZYX - KZYZ FM, Mendocino
County Public Radio (NPR), California.
to hear. Bassoonist Daniel Smith is swinging and masterful
on this recording, he and his group create textures and
sounds not always familiar within jazz. A real treat for
the ears. Track favorites include Blue Monk and In
A Sentimental Mood."
- John Sutton, Host of the Jazz Excursion, Jazzexcursion.com
Smith has created an unusual sound on an instrument that
primarily used in the symphonic mode. "Anthropology"
The bassoon holds it's own on this fast tempo bop classic.
Martin Bejerano's Powellesque piano solo goes right to the
heart of hip. Dexter
Gordon's "Sticky Wicket" is the final track on
this CD and the bassoon solo is cool in it's own strange
those in search of a new sound..This is it. 3 Stars."
John Gilbert, California
profound work of jazz for a very difficult symphony oriented
wind instrument, The Bassoon - I will confess this is my
first experience at hearing the bassoon as a prime solo
jazz instrument - and I am left with a deep sense of respect
on behalf of bassoon master Dan Smith at his being able
to bring this reed into the realm of jazz. To say that Smith
is imaginative, deliberate, adventurous and open minded
is to understate my case. This is a study in melodic creation,
arresting originality, warmth, and buttered tone from an
artist with an instrument and the guts to explore the unknown."
George W. Carroll, The Musicians Ombudsman. www.ejazznews.com
Viewed by 250,000 people a year, Jazzman Records at www.jazzmanrecords.com
is now featuring 'Bebop Bassoon''
Bebop? Jazz? Since when? Daniel Smith answers those questions
with this first-ever CD recording of straight-ahead bebop
classics on what has, until now, been almost strictly a
classical orchestra instrument. And for good reason. The
highest notes on the bassoon are roughly equivalent to the
middle notes on a tenor sax, which would appear to kill
its chances for success in a jazz context. However, Smith
succeeds in transcending those potential limitations, beautifully
covering ten classics from such bebop masters as Charlie
Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Monk, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins,
Coltrane and others, coaxing notes and progressions from
the bassoon that probably wouldnt fly in an orchestral
setting. Liberated from the constraints of his classical
training, and free to explore new dimensions of this strange-looking
instrument, Smith may have single-handedly elevated the
bassoon to new heights in the jazz genre. Backed by Martin
Bejerano on piano, John Sullivan on bass and Ludwig Afonso
on drums, Smith turns standards like Killer Joe,
Anthropology, Blue Monk, and Horace
Silvers Sister Sadie into uniquely refreshing
-- Dean M. Shapiro, www.americanwired.com
striking set of bebop classics played by classical bassoon
master Daniel Smith. The music hereon includes compositions
by Miles, Bird, Trane, Monk and other masters of the genre.
The deep and sinuous sound of the instrument, a rarity in
jazz, offers a different angle on pieces such as 'All Blues,
'Anthropology', 'Up Against The Wall'. Blue Monk, as well
as Sonny Rollins' 'Doxy' and Dexter Gordon's 'Sticky Wicket'.
Daniel is supported by the rhythm section of pianist Martin
Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Alfonso.
Daniel's virtuoso playing of the bassoon is challenged by
the complexities of some of the pieces he plays and throughout
he confidently displays his mastery not only of the instrument
but also of the form. This CD is very worthy of your attention."
- Bruce Crowler / www.swing2bop.com
a kick is this CD! It should appeal to both chamber jazz
lovers and chamber music fans. Though recorded in NYC and
mixed at Big Dog/Fat Cat Studios in Florida, it somehow
fits that a Swiss CD label picked this unique session to
holds the claim to being the world's most-recorded bassoonist.
He did all 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos for the ASV label,
and is the only bassoonist performing and recording in both
the jazz and classical fields. Smith has been written up
in papers and magazines worldwide, including The New York
Times, and has been referred to as the "Gerry Mulligan
of the Bassoon." Last year composer/arranger Robert
Farnon dedicated his final work to Daniel Smith: a three-movement
bassoon concerto titled "Romancing the Phoenix."
recall fondly the jazz oboe excursions of Bob Cooper from
the 50s, and the bassoon is really the same thing except
going down an octave or so. The task of playing jazz on
the bassoon is not an easy one, though. The instrument is
the hardest member of the woodwinds to play (although the
French horn is no picnic either). Playing concert music
is difficult enough, but jazz phrases are much more difficult
to play on a bassoon than on, say, a saxophone. Smith sounds
like he has no trouble at all - but isn't that the secret
of great performing ability - to make it look or sound like
it's not difficult? Smith says in his introduction in the
notes that he has to wear "two hats" - one keeping
a conservatory-trained concept in place when playing with
an orchestra or ensemble, and then switching completely
to another way of thinking and playing in the world of jazz.
a track or two of these jazz standards I began to get past
the oddity of the bassoon in jazz and was just thinking
of the soloist as being an unusual sort of bass clarinet
or sax. Thoughts of the opening of The Rite of Spring came
to mind hearing Smith's high register treatment of Horace
Silver's Sister Sadie, and the low end comes to the fore
in several other tracks, mixing beautifully with the drums
and bass. For me the highlight track was Miles Davis' All
Blues. What a different version of this classic which we've
all heard so many many times! Smith sounds even more mournful
than Miles! Hey, now I gotta pick up on this cat's earlier
two CDs: Bassoon and Beyond, and The Swinging Bassoon. Groovy
to the max!"
- John Sunier, Audiophile
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.
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
instrumentas is the case with such bebop classics
as Killer Joe, the Parker/Gillespie tune Anthropology
and Sonny Rollins' Doxy.
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
Michael P. Gladstone, All
the most recorded soloist ever to play the challenging double
reed, it was only a matter of time, it seems, before Daniel
Smith ventured out of the classical bassoon repertoire.
On Bebop Bassoon, the veteran instrumentalist interprets
ten standards from the jazz canon, making the familiar tunes
surprisingly fresh with his woody, resonant renditions......an
admirable project from an obvious jazz lover that will hopefully
lead to greater acceptance of the bassoon as a serious jazz
-Matthew Miller All
know from the first notes of the first track that this is
not a typical jazz recording. What is that sound? A tuba
at the top of its range? An oddly muted trombone? A bari
sax under water? Its a bassoon, a bassoon playing
a great bop standard from Benny Golson, Killer Joe.
Daniel Smith has given this long hollow tube a new purposeto
sing melody and improvise as if it was truly a jazz instrument.
And so it becomes, as delightfully illustrated on Bebop
Bassoon, released this month on Swiss-based ZahZah Records.
Dubbed the Gerry Mulligan of the Bassoon in
jazz circles and the Rampal of the Bassoon in
the classical realm, Daniel Smith is above all a versatile
pioneer when it comes to this great double reed. With recordings
and performances that stretch from Baroque to ragtime to
bop, Smith has turned the bassoon repertoire upside-down
and inside-out, resulting in a much greater appreciation
of this unique and difficult-to-master instrument. Smith
appears to be the only bassoonist today who is performing
and recording both classical and jazz, although the first
appearance of the bassoon in a jazz context goes back to
the 1920s and Paul Whitemans orchestra. In the 1960s,
both Yusef Lateef and Chick Corea incorporated some bassoon
into their recordings, and saxophonists Illinois Jacquet
and Frank Tiberi occasionally doubled on the bassoon. A
few contemporary jazz artists exclusively play bassoon (Karen
Borca, Michael Rabinowitz). Yet only Smith, who has enjoyed
a highly successful classical career, has managed to actively
span both genres, and particularly bring public attention
to the bassoon as a solo jazz instrument as well as ensemble
have plenty of good jazz ensemble recordings on my shelves,
but none surpass Bebop Bassoon for pure fun. And none provide
such an in-depth introduction to an unlikely instruments
potential to bring yet one more new sound to jazz performance.
I hope to hear a lot more from Daniel Smiths bassoon
- Andrea Carter, www.jazzreview.com
"Le basson est ordinairement associé à
la musique symphonique. En faire un instrument soliste de
jazz relevait donc de la gageure. Pari engagé et
tenu par Daniel Smith, dont le répertoire habituel,
du baroque à la musique contemporaine avec des incursions
dans le ragtime et le « crossover », pousse
ici un pseudopode vers le jazz. Plus précisément
vers le bop et le hard bop dont il revisite les classiques
signés Golson, Parker, Monk, Gillespie, Miles, Rollins,
Coltrane, Silver ou Dexter Gordon, avec une incursion dans
lunivers ellingtonien. Il est soutenu dans cette entreprise
par un trio des plus homogènes doù émerge
le pianiste Martin Bejerano, particulièrement stimulant
et qui se révèle soliste accompli. On appréciera
la cohérence et le swing de son improvisation dans
Sister Sadie où le batteur Ludwig Afonso se met aussi
en valeur. Le bassiste, pour sa part, donne sa pleine mesure
dans lintroduction et dans son chorus de All Blues.
Quant à Smith lui-même, il fait preuve dun
bout à lautre dimagination et dune
musicalité qui, le premier moment de surprise passé,
emporte ladhésion. Mieux, les standards passés
au creuset de son basson en sortent transformés au
point dacquérir des couleurs nouvelles"
- Jacques Aboucaya, Pour JAZZ
a great player!!!! 'Bebop Bassoon' ....It is excellent!
Will start including the music in July and the following
Kuller, Jazz Presenter,
Adelaide 101.5FM (Australia)
bassoon is rarely heard in jazz. The big, deep-toned double
reed instrument is much more at home in the classical world.
When encountered in a jazz setting, it's usually in larger
ensemble recordings, painting dark colors in the harmonies.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter's classic Alegria (Verve,
2003) is a good example of the more common usage in the
Smith's Bebop Bassoon takes the instrument into uncharted
territory--out front, with a piano/bass/drums rhythm section
in support, like a Dexter Gordon outing. Smith makes the
horn switch on a set of classic bebop tunes from the pens
of bop masters Benny Golson, Charlie Parker, Thelonious
Monk, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington (not quite
bebop, of course), Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie
and Dexter Gordon.
could say it's a way to get out of the comfort zone, but
bassoonist Daniel Smith apparently isn't a comfort
zone kind of guy. He has recorded the Complete 37
Vivaldi Concertos, a disc that was selected by the Music
Industry Association as Best Concerto Recording of the Year,
in addition to pushing his instrument's repertoire into
ragtime, jazz and contemporary music.
Bassoon works surpisingly well, a unusual and idiosyncratic
treat for the ears. Smith navigates the bassoon's rich,
woody tone through saxophonist Benny Golson's slinky gem
Killer Joe, making the tune sound as if were
written for the instrument. He also plays Charlie Parker's
Anthropolgy, Monk's Blue Monk, Miles
Davis' All Blues, John Coltrane's Up Against
the Wall and more.
could give the disc extra credit for the novelty of the
approach, but it doesn't need any. This is an excellent
jazz outing--familiar territory traversed in style."
- Dan McClenaghan, All
this recording, BEBOP BASSOON, this listener knew the name
Daniel Smith only as related to his prodigious gifts as
a classical bassoonist: his recording of the Vivaldi Bassoon
Concerti is a stunning achievement and ranks him among the
finest classically trained bassoonists today.
then here comes BeBop Bassoon! Not being familiar with this
aspect of Smith's gifts (I haven't heard his other jazz
recordings) made listening to this unique CD a welcome discovery.
Not only does Daniel Smith negotiate treacherous territory
in the jazz idiom, he plays in such a centered fashion that
the music feels as though it is coming directly from his
soul. He is extremely well supported by his colleagues:
Martin Bejerano on piano, John Sullivan on bass and Ludwig
Afonso on drums. Each is a pro and seems to understand the
dark sound of the bassoon playing jazz and find just the
right equivalent of tone in their own instruments that makes
this set of fine songs move into the pinnacle of jazz performance.
on the CD include favorites from Thelonious Monk ('Blue
Monk'), John Coltrane ('Up Against the Wall'), Duke Ellington
("In a Sentimental Mood'), Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie,
Sonny Rollins, Charley Parker, Dexter Gordon, Horace Silver
and Benny Golson. It is the cream of the crop and served
with flavors you may have never tasted! Highly recommended."
-Grady Harp, June 06, www.amazon.com
is a fascinating new recording, with Daniel Smith on bassoon,
in numerous jazz works, that would otherwise feature trumpet
or sax. He chooses the best of the best, pieces by Coltrane,
Gillespie, Golson, Monk, (Miles) Davis, Rollins, Parker,
and more. Daniel Smith showcases the bassoon, out of its
more common, classical milieu, and he presents a new and
Blue Monk Composed by Thelonius Monk. Martin Bejerano
opens this track with a melodic solo, closely joined by
Daniel Smith. Bejerano is fast rising in the jazz scene,
with versatility and breezy blending. Bejerano and Smith
switch and combine leads, while the melody meanders to
In a Sentimental Mood Composed by Duke Ellington.
In this song, one of my favorite tracks, Smith towers
over the band with moody bliss. The clarity of the deep
bassoon is noteworthy, and Ludwig Afonso, on prominent
percussion, joined by John Sullivan, on bass, provide
a strong, resonant backup.
All Blues Composed by Miles Davis. John Sullivan
opens this well known Miles Davis standard. Smith carries
the theme, while Sullivan plays a contrasting rhythm,
before Bejerano turns it into a contemporary riff.
Up Against the Wall Composed by John Coltrane.
This track is notable for an extended drum riff by Afonso,
amidst Smiths prominent and powerful bassoon lead.
Coltranes piece is jumping and kicking and never
sounded quite like this."
Roberta E. Zlokower, June 6, 2006, www.robertaonthearts.com
do not think I have heard anything like this before. Way
back Yusef Lateef made a LP with all kinds of flutes and
- I think - oboe - but never bassoon. I also think Dan Smith
is the real thing. The record is well worth listening to.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to listen to my
first bebop bassoon! Keep swinging!"
-Åke Grandell, www.fonet.com
Smith, bassoon, with Martin Bejerano, piano, John Sullivan,
bass, Ludwig Alfonso, drums, Bebop Bassoon (Guild GmbH Zah
Zah). Smith makes clear the challenge faced by the bebop
bassoonist: he has few role models, the instrument is tougher
than the sax, and "one would have to shed all preconceived
notions as to how to play jazz on the instrument."
Jazz could use a few novel instruments. Too many jam sessions
are ruined by a glut of saxophones. So I welcome Smith's
efforts, which include a bluesy "Doxy," a frenetic
"Anthropology" and a surprisingly suave "Killer
Joe." Smith's tone is light and fluid and his sidemen,
especially blues-tinged pianist Bejerano, have an eloquent
touch. Three stars."
-Mary Kunz Goldman, www.VerizonCentral.com
8 (out of possible 10)
...... ' Smith is himself a giant. One of the few top-line
legit concert musicians to have gone right into jazz, as
well as meeting other crossover challenges. He's not like
any other musician I have reviewed, a gent who didn't know
what not to play, and had his ideas of jazz come from glossies
and general media rather that first-hand acquaintance. His
playing brings out the best of the quartet.'
-Robert R. Calder www.popmatters.com
recording of classic Be-Bop tunes, but played
on a very unusual instrument: the bassoon, which the talented
Daniel Smith plays with great fluidity.'
-Bruno Pollacci, Anima
guy has guts. What else can you say for a guy that takes
the most unyielding of instruments, the double reed bassoon,
and takes it on a journey of bebop and hard bop standards?
And you thought Buddy Defranco had it tough with the clarinet?
As a reed player myself, all I could do was listen in awe
of the mastery of Smith. He just takes apart pieces like
Anthropology and Sister Sadie as
if they were nursery rhymes. Even as daunting a piece as
Coltranes Up Against the Wall is deftly
handled.This beast was definitely tamed by Daniel Smith."
-George W. Harris Jazz
you heard the last word on neo-bop, guess again. Bebop Bassoon!
No, really. Sounds funny right? Actually it's not a totally
unprecedented jazz instrument. Ken McIntyre did some fascinating
lower double-reed work from time to time, and a quick Google
search on jazz bassoon will take you to the website of sometime
Bela Fleck and Paul Dresher sideman Paul Hanso--located
at, where else, jazzbassoon.com! Now along comes Daniel
Smith, who ups the ante on all of them by putting out an
album of covers of classic tunes by Charlie Parker, John
Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and even Miles Davis's "All
Blues" from Kind of Blue! You've gotta hear this to
believe it. But IMHO, it's on Dexter Gordon's "Sticky
Wicket" that Smith's alternative horn most fully commands
center stage. So, what's next, bebop contrabassoon?"
-New Music Box from The American Music Center - FJO
about fifteen years ago the jazz community felt a resurgence
of retrospective reflection on the jazz of the 60s
and the years leading up to that era of jazz expressionism.
Perhaps the fervent attraction comes from the way the musicians
expressed strong emotions and feeling, expressing their
views and experiences of the world in which they lived,
and their push to explore new forms of music (jazz).
Daniel Smith has been a part of this retrospective movement,
with obvious study of the swing and be-bop era, and Smith
is fluent in the language of that time. However, Smith is
still pushing the boundaries today by his instrument choice-
the bassoon! Granted this is not as boundary breaking as
Miless Kind of Blue, but it does expand the roster
of jazz instruments.
The fist question in the readers mind is probably; What
does jazz bassoon sound like? The simplest answer;
like a reed trombone. The sonic quality is rich and similar
in range and shape as the trombone, but with a fuzzier reed
sound and much more agility (similar to that of a saxophone).
Smiths new release entitled Bebop Bassoon is a collection
of ten well known standards that are designed to showcase
Smiths ability on the bassoon. As the most recorded
bassoon soloist in the world, Smiths repertoire ranges
from Baroque concerti to contemporary music including jazz,
ragtime and crossover. Presently Smith is the only bassoonist
performing and recording in both the jazz and classical
fields. Playing both worlds is a very challenging thing
to do, and has only be successfully accomplished by a select
few musicians- Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Eddie Danniels
might come to mind the quickest.
Smiths interpretation of Ellingtons beautiful
ballad, In a Sentimental Mood, really lets the
listener hear the sound of the bassoon and enjoy the wonderful
colors and moods the instrument gives forth, that until
now have been savored primarily in a symphonic setting.
Pianist Martin Bejerano uses the hauntingly beautiful countermelody
that Duke used with Coltrane, giving a nice addition to
overall texture of the track
Sister Sadie is another highlight with Smith
displaying the ability and agility of the bassoon with a
nice solo over a swinging groove provided by bassist John
Sullivan and Ludwig Afonso on drums. The arrangement is
also worth mentioning, with an obvious nod to the great
Bebop Bassoon expresses strong emotions and feeling, Smith
and his cohorts seem to feel the urgency to express their
views and experiences of the world in which they live, and
Smith is pushing to expand the horizon of what is considered
a legit jazz instrument. That said, Bebop Bassoon is a welcome
addition to the saga of jazz and any CD collection."
-H. Allen Williams, Jazz
Notes: "This is a very unusual application with Dan
Smith playing his bassoon on jazz tracks! Dan is typically
a classical musician. He ventured into jazz some time ago
recording Bebop Bassoon but holding up on the release until
it was perfected. What we hear on the finished product is
excellent starting with Killer Joe and moving
through jazz classics. The accompanying musicians are tight
as well forming a quartet. Bassist John Sullivan, Ludwig
Afonso (d) and Martin Bejerano (p) provide strong support
as well as some good solos of their own. We dont need
to excuse Smith as a jazz rookie at any time as he races
through the changes on Parkers 'Anthropology' without skipping
a beat. Take a listen hear, youll enjoy it!"
-D. Oscar Groomes, www.OsPlaceJazz.com