The Jazz Suite
Wed 28th Nov 2007
'Swingin' Bassoon' Exclusive
CD Launch Celebration - Gig 30
St Andrews Court
Unique Jazz Artist in Performance
In 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 Jazz Standards 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.
'Bassoon and Beyond'
- supporting artists
Jonathan Gee - Keyboard
Steve Rose - Double Bass
Winston Clifford - Drums
Daniel Smith the leading pioneer of the bassoon with his many critically acclaimed award-winning recordings and live performances. As the most recorded bassoon soloist in the world, his repertoire spans music ranging from Baroque concerti to contemporary music including jazz, ragtime and crossover. He is the only bassoonist performing and recording in both the jazz and classical fields. Daniel Smith's unique career has been profiled in Gramophone, the New York Times, Fanfare, Classical Music, Musical Heritage Review, American Record Guide, Classic CD and many leading European publications including The Times in England. In the USA, his career was highlighted on PBS's "All Things Considered'. In the UK, one of his recordings was the 'signature tune' for BBC Radio 3 while BBC Radio 4 recently showcased his career.
Daniel Smith's performances include jazz with his quartet 'Bassoon and Beyond', classical recitals with piano, concertos with orchestra, and highly popular programs divided between classical and jazz, with music ranging from Vivaldi, Elgar, Mozart and Verdi to Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie. Described as a 'phenomenon', he has been called the 'Gerry Mulligan of the Bassoon' in the world of jazz and the 'Galway' and 'Rampal of the Bassoon' in the world of classical music, bringing his unique sound and style to concert series, festivals and jazz clubs.
Gee - a fine UK pianist with
allegiances to Keith Jarrett and McCoy Tyner - there are plenty of
signposts to the familiar, and the playing is exhilaratingly fresh. Has
worked regularly with US stars David Murray & Mark Murphy. He has
recorded 20 albums with British artists such as Bobby Wellins, Ed Jones,
Eddie Parker, Claire Martin, and US3, & has toured 16 countries with the
likes of Steve Williamson & Orphy Robinson. Recent work includes 3 tours
of Scandinavia with Ed Jones, Finnish trumpet star Mika Myllari & the
trio, & trips to Cameroon & Singapore with poet Lemn Sissay for the
British Council. Television appearances include BBC 2's "Jazz 606" & a
stint as Musical Director for guests such as Alison Moyet & Clive Rowe
on BBC 2's " Lesley Garrett Show". He was "most promising newcomer" in
the 1991 British Jazz Awards & is currently appearing as a
singer/pianist together with Dominic Alldis (also a singer/pianist) on a
UK tour. His international Quartet with Damon Brown will visited New
York, Israel & Spain in the spring of 2002. In recent years
Jonathan has also begun to develop his voice . With Dominic Aldiss he
has formed a duo in which they both play the piano and sing. The
repertoire features Ellington, LeGrand, Coward, Evans and Jobim
John Fordham of the Guardian said of Jonathan Gee "He has blossomed into a performer of flexibility, resourcefulness and technical command to rival any of his generation." Jonathan has released two albums with his own trio which has appeared at Ronnie Scott's. He has played with many greats including Joe Lovano, David Murray and Benny Golsen.
Clifford is one of Britain's leading jazz drummers. Born
in September 1965 - a Virgo.
In 1979 - Studied with ex-Tubby Hayes drummer Bill Eyden and in1985 studied drums with Trevor Tomkins at Guildhall School of Music. Has played with many musicians including Courtney Pine, Bheki Mseleku, Jason Rebello, Gary Husband, Pete King, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Iain Ballamy, Leroy Osbourne, Ronnie Scott Band, Julian Joseph, Andy Sheppard, Tony Remy, Steve Williamson Band, Jean Toussaint Band, Slim Gaillard, Bobby Watson, Monty Alexander, Gary Bartz, Art Farmer, Archie Shepp, Freddie Hubbard etc. Has appeared at many International Festivals & recorded albums with Frevo, Roadside Picnic, Jean Toussaint, Andy Hamilton, Brian Dee Trio, Harry Beckett Quintet & Jan Ponsford. Appeared on Channel 4, BBC 2 & ITV as well as radio broadcasts. He has worked with Courtney Pine, Bheki Mseleku, Jason Rebello, Iain Ballamy, Julian Joseph, Andy Sheppard, Jean Toussaint, Orphy Robinson, Bobby Watson, Monty Alexander, Birelli Lagrene and Joey Calderazzo. He has performed in New York and Bombay with Carmen Lundy and is featured on her latest album, Old Devil Moon.
Jazz Eddie - I have watched Winston at many jazz performances and he is truly one of the great listening drummers and responds positively to every nuance or direction the music takes and delivers superbly structured solos with drive, intellect and humour. Less is more with Winston and I concur. He also delivers a mean vocal interlude when allowed to! Don't miss him he is a truly astounding simpatico drummer and way ahead of the standard game.
Rose 46 plays
double bass, piano & keyboards, & has worked with Paul Weller, Tim Hagans, Tiny
Tim, Eddie Parker, Jacqui Dankworth, Tommy Chase, Roland Gift & Samantha Fox
He has worked extensively in the theatre & in contemporary dance and has composed & performed music for leading companies such as London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Amici, The David Glass Ensemble & Candoco, throughout the world.
Recently he was Musical Director at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden working with members of the orchestra & young people with autism.
He also works as a film & TV composer and is a proud father to Laura and Thomas.
Enquiries on the "Bassoon and Beyond" Jazz Quartet
Contact E-mail or Phone 01844 353117 E M Fowler
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Recordings - Jazz CD's
Daniel 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.
In 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 instrument—as is the case with such bebop classics as “Killer Joe,” the Parker/Gillespie tune ”Anthropology” and Sonny Rollins' “Doxy.” In 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 Afonso (drums)
Track listing: Killer Joe; Anthropology; Blue Monk; Sister Sadie; In A Sentimental Mood; All Blues; Doxy; Up Against the Wall; Birk's Works; Sticky Wicket.
Dan on Jazz Improvisation on the Bassoon
I would like also to bring up the subject of unusual and different music which can be performed on the bassoon and also jazz. Ragtime if executed with the right feeling can sound very natural on the instrument, as does a large amount of 'crossover' material including transcriptions of music normally performed on other instruments as well as orchestral pieces. As for playing jazz on the bassoon several years ago, Steve Gray composed a work for me entitled 'Jazz Suite' which I had the honour of performing with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra. The piece contained improvisational spots and which forced me to plunge in and get serious about playing real jazz on the instrument. I was already a virtuoso so to speak but all of my technical skills were of no help whatsoever in learning how to play jazz in a serious way. I had to methodically learn to play extended chords and scales from top to bottom on the instrument and in all keys. This included many scales and chords which do not appear in classical music. And then to place all ideas exactly where the underlying chords are heard and of course to 'hear' musical ideas many measures before you execute them. This took me about four years to accomplish and along the way my arms became very sore and stiff from the effort. But then suddenly the ideas flowed and the soreness stopped... everything just flowed! All the musical ideas made sense and can now perform a full two hour jazz concert without using any music and with a repertoire of nearly one hundred jazz pieces to pick from including bebop, swing, Latin, blues, ballads, etc.
Finally, the bassoon must be amplified when performing jazz, otherwise it would not be heard above a rhythm section, let along a full symphony orchestra. I have a special microphone attached to my crook/bocal which makes this possible. When Robert Farnon found this out, he was much relieved knowing that his music would be clearly heard above the orchestra in his bassoon concerto, And as for developing a jazz style on the instrument, there are no real role models from the past to learn from such as Armstrong, Gillespie or Davis on trumpet or Parker, Getz or Rollins on saxophone. It is all pioneering stuff and I am very pleased to be involved in such ground breaking efforts and of course with the bassoon concerto of Robert Farnon as a fitting memorial to his memory and talent.
.Daniel Smith's latest recordings, BEBOP BASSOON and THE SWINGIN' BASSOON are to be released on the Zah Zah label. Featuring a top US rhythm section (pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist John Sullivan and drummer Ludwig Afonso), the two CDs were recorded 'back-to-back' and up until now have been only available from Daniel's management where they were enthusiastically received by jazz critics worldwide.
MARTIN BEJERANO: PIANO -
urrently member of the Roy Haynes band. Performed with: Russell Malone, James Moody, Ira Sullivan, Marcus Printup and many others. Major jazz festivals including those of Playboy, Montreal, Aspen, Ravinia, Sedona, Big Sur, Lincoln Center, Bahia, Charlie Parker. Jazz clubs appearances include: Birdland, The Blue Note, Jazz Gallery, Sunset Club (Paris), Jazz Showcase, Dakota. Recordings on various labels.
JOHN SULLIVAN: BASS
Currently member of the Roy Haynes band. Performed with Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Mike Manieri, Louis Hayes, David Sanchez, Bill Stewart. Jazz club venues and festivals include: The Jazz Gallery, Village Vanguard, The Blue Note, The Knitting Factory, Smalls, Lincoln Centre. Recordings on various labels.
LUDWIG AFONSO: DRUMS
One of New York's premier jazz drummers, currently with Spiro Gyra. Featured with Bob Berg, Ira Sullivan, Nestor Torres, Sammy Figueroa, Eddie Rivera, Hector Martianon, Donny McCaslin. Ensembles include CJB Concert Jazz Band and the Bop Brothers. Recordings on various labels.
- Well You Needn't [Thelonious Monk]
- Hay Burner [Count Basie/Sammy Nestico]
- Scrapple from the Apple [Charlie Parker]
- St. Thomas [Sonny Rollins]
- I'm Getting Sentimental Over You [Washington/Bassman]
- Summer Samba [Marcos Valle]
- Out of Nowhere [Eddie Heyman]
- Mood Indigo [Duke Ellington]
- Home At Last [Hank Mobley]
- I Remember You [Schertzinger/Mercer]
A Night In Tunisia [Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli]
Bassoonist Daniel Smith switch hits from classical to swing to hard bop on this rewarding studio set. Other than some choice solos by pianist Martin Bejerano, the quartet stays in the background, providing support to Smith’s amazingly fluid lines, which shine forth through a set of jazz standards. You can just imagine saxophonist Charlie Parker on bassoon during the band’s take on “Scrapple From The Apple.” Here and throughout, Smith’s spiky phrasings are balanced by brisk runs fortified by lots of pop, zip and seemingly effortless control.
Enhanced by a varied mix of tunes, the album is much more than a novelty excursion. On “Summer Samba,” the leader is well paired by Bejerano’s upper register choruses, the duo's blithe unison passages running atop a delicate samba pulse. Smith’s imaginative and technically impressive performances are complemented by his band-mates’ deft touch and judicious use of dynamics. - Glenn Astarita - allaboutjazz
something, I was not quite prepared for this album that was
called The Swingin' Bassoon (Zah Zah/Guild). Can a bassoon
swing, I found myself asking, and would I be surprised to
hear one? I was very surprised.
Daniel Smith has a classical background, but knows that if you have the heart and determination, you can make any instrument fit into the jazz mould, especially when in jazz the moulds are destroyed and remade on a regular basis. Jazz has often flirted with classical music and instruments, as musicians have wanted to test the music and their own limits. For the most part those experiments have worked very well, and with Smith it works superbly.
Smith's bassoon begins the album, and at first it sounds like a classical recording. It takes about 25 seconds before he and the band break it down, as they do in "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You". Immediately you sense that there's a different dynamic going on, but it works. Smith gets into a groove by playing Monk's "Well You Needn't", and the creativity continues throughout, with creative renditions of songs by Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker (you have to hear "Scrapple From The Apple" to believe it), and Hank Mobley.
Helping out Smith on the album are Ludwig Afonso (drums), John Sullivan (bass), and Martin Bejerano, who can definitely read all of Smith's mannerisms in the studio and also get to strut their stuff as they back him up. The piano work of Bejerano was very impressive and reminded me a bit of McCoy Tyner.
The Swingin' Bassoon sounds like one of those after-hours albums where everyone has gone home and you're in it for the spirit of the jam and the people in the room jamming with you. A bassoon may not be the first instrument one thinks about, but if it's there and a musician can play, bring it on. Smith brings his best to the table and accomplishes his mission by making the unconventional sound like it is part of the norm. John Book
Coming into jazz originally from a classical background, this CD caught my eye right away. I've always leaned toward jazz played on some of those instruments of the symphony which are not regarded as central to jazz expression - violin, French horn, cello, oboe. Well, the bassoon is only a rung down from the oboe, and is probably one of the most difficult wind instruments to play (along with the French horn). This is not the first time the lengthy fellow from the woodwinds has been called upon to swing, but there hasn't been much of that chamber jazz sort of thing lately, so this disc is most welcome as far as I'm concerned.
Zah Zah is an Arabic word used to describe something that shines brightly; it can also refer to something very good. This is a new sub-label of the Swiss label Guild and I'm ready to call it very good. Bassoonist Smith allows that the classical performer has to get rid of all preconceived notions about how to play the instrument if one wants to make jazz swing with it. It's probably a similar challenge on the French horn. Smith's quartet is set up just like a typical jazz quartet featuring tenor sax, but the sound is worlds different.
The tunes with a bit of the humour that jazz delivers so well seem to come off the best. Monk's Well You Needn't is perfect for the instrument, and will bring a smile to any jazz fan for sure. The arrangement is quite intriguing with a workout for the bassoon not that different from some Vivaldi concerto. (Vivaldi Meets Monk - now there's an interesting idea...Smith recorded all 37 Vivaldi concertos for the ASV label, by the way.) Others tracks in similar lighter vein are Summer Samba, Sonny Rollins' St. Thomas, and Dizzy's A Night in Tunisia, which closes out the 11 tracks. Scrapple from the Apple starts with quite a feat - Smith copying note for note Charlie Parker's own sax solo! Great fun all 'round. - John Sunier
The bassoon is primarily relegated to providing background
colours within a symphony orchestra, but much like the late
turned the bass clarinet into a lead instrument in a small
group jazz setting, Daniel Smith intends to establish his
ungainly woodwind as a jazz instrument. Smith's second
CD as a leader for the English label Zah Zah features
pianist Martin Bergerano bassist John Sullivan and
drummer Ludwig Afonso , who make up a potent rhythm section.
Smiths programme is an ambitious one, digging into
standards, swing, bop, hard bop and more. The ballads and
slower standards work best, allowing Smith to insert more
space between notes. But with faster tempi in pieces like
"Scrapple From the Apple" work against him, simply
because it is hard to for him to articulate when switching
from one note to another when they are close together,
unlike the bass clarinet, which can better project sound
without blurring the distinctiveness of each note. In any
proves his point that the bassoon has more potential than
simply being relegated to providing background colour.
~Ken Dryden, All Music Guide
Bassoon-focused covers of Swing chestnuts may at first seem foolhardy, if ballsy. Yet Smith has already lugged his ax into the studio to record a set of Bop tunes on bassoon, so this is a more snug, if still daring, fit. Aside from an obscure Hank Mobley tune (“Home at Last”) the set list is not that adventurous, with Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Basie, and Charlie Parker represented by more or less signature tunes. The take on Parker’s “Scrapple in the Apple” deserves props just because the song itself is so damn challenging no matter the instrument. For the most part, though, this is what you might expect: straight-ahead swing arrangements, but with bassoon. Drummer Ludwig Alfonso sure does swing, and John Sullivan on bass anchors the tunes. While at first listen, each song kicks in with the familiar structure of swing with the jarring addition of the bassoon, making each track walk a tight-rope right off the bat: will this really swing, or is this a novelty? Smith’s chops and warm knowledge of these classics does make them swing, and while there is humour in his lines, it does not come unintentionally or as a gimmick. This is a sincere set, if one that takes your ears some time to really dig it. -- Mike Wood (14 August, 2007)
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Bassoon - Woodwind Instrument
The beginning of the bassoon is similar to the oboe.
The bassoon itself first appeared about 1650, and by the end of the 1700’s, it had from 4 to 8 keys.
During the 1800’s, many people experimented with improving the fingering of the bassoon.
Most of the changes helped the fingering, but made the tone of the instrument suffer.
The Heckel family of Germany managed to improve the fingering of the bassoon without damaging its tone.
Many professionals today play bassoons made by the Heckel Company.