JJ 04/93: Tommy Smith – Paris

Thirty years ago Derek Ansell thought that in reproducing the Blue Note sound for the 90s Tommy Smith had got it together. First published in Jazz Journal April 1993


Tommy Smith’s Blue Note albums to date have been promising, good in parts but floundering ulti­mately on the sands of indecision or a too contrived commercial approach. This one is very differ­ent; he has got everything together with this release: 12 chal­lenging compositions, brisk ensembles from a strong front line and a crisp, flowing rhythm section.

Phraseology, at 14 min­utes the longest track, has good solos from everyone except Sta­cey but it is the last one, from Smith, that commands attention and finally wraps everything up.

Birth swings mightily, and with Barker’s brassy, ringing trumpet solo, Rebello’s masterly comping and richly inventive, warm tex­tured tenor from Smith, it’s like a contemporary version of vintage Blue Note music. Fragments ven­tures into free jazz territory with a strong, ‘outside’ solo by Argüelles, enveloping rhythm sparked by Stacey and a blistering tenor segment from Smith. Dis­chord features a long and very inventive tenor solo with sym­pathetic rhythm support from Rebello, Hutton and Stacey.

Everybody plays splendidly, although nobody quite matches the leader and the CD is a real scorcher in the best sense of the word. This is Tommy’s best so far by a long way and recommended.

Dischord; True Sobriety; Reflec­tions; Day Light; Ping Pong; Chil­dren’s Play; Phraseology; Tear; Birth; Lost; Fragments; Occiden­talism (74.03)
Tommy Smith (ts); Julian Arguelles (as/ss); Guy Barker (t); Mick Hutton (b); Jason Rebello (p); Jeremy Stacey (d). London, May, 1992.
(Blue Note 07777 806 1229)