May 25, 2024

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Walter Smith III – Twio 2018: Free download & Video

The unashamedly retro cover art of Twio accurately signposts the content of this imaginative album’s track selection of jazz classics and standards.

The only exception to this programme is Walter Smith III‘s original composition “Contrafact,” chordally based on “Like Someone In Love” but given a 5/4 makeover. This involves the twin tenors of Smith and guest Joshua Redman opening the number in unison and progressing to an effervescent treatment adopted throughout the choruses. The two tracks teaming-up Smith and Redman recall the pairing of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims on You ‘N Me or John Coltrane and Hank Mobley on Two Tenors and sees the two saxophonists voraciously swapping licks on Ferde Grofé’s “On the Trail.”
The lively opener, Monk’s “Ask Me Now” is indicative of Smith’s feisty yet sensitive approach to the album. “We’ll Be Together Again,” here only accompanied by Eric Harland on drums, proves that Smith can play just as effectively in ballad mode, lovingly teasing out every last note of the melody. Wayne Shorter’s “Adam’s Apple” evinces a satisfyingly robust outing, with the lack of a chordal instrument proving inconsequential yet again. Jimmy Rowles’s “The Peacock” is given a sombre, pensive treatment by Smith, to some extent channelling—but not copying—the original 1975 Stan Getz recording.

The humorous false start to Gigi Grye’s “Social Call” gives a clue as to the atmosphere surrounding this relaxed and good natured session with Smith and guest bassist Christian McBride performing a short yet pleasing duet. Smith has worked with many leading figures in jazz including Roy Haynes, Terence Blanchard and Joe Lovano and this follow-up to 2014’s Still Casual, consolidates his talent and reinforces the proposition that he now must surely rank highly amongst the finest saxophonists playing today.

1 Ask Me Now (6:00)
2 Nobody Else (4:36)
3 On the Trail (6:07)
4 We’ll Be Together Again (4:17)
5 I’ll Be Seeing You (5:45)
6 Adam’s Apple (7:36)
7 The Peacocks (5:38)
8 Social Call (2:54)
9 Contrafact (5:18)

Personnel: Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone; Harish Raghaven: bass (1,2,6-7); Eric Harland: drums; Guests: Christian McBride: bass (3,5,8-9); Joshua Redman: tenor saxophone (3,9).

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