Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
John Tapscott | Canada | 11/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gary Smulyan's 2007 CD, "More Treasures" is closely related to last year's "Hidden Treasures." But there are a couple of differences which make this more than just Volume 2. For one thing, the rhythm section is different, this time comprising bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Steve Johns. In addition, pianist Mike LeDonne is added on five of the nine tracks, thereby turning the group into a quartet. Smuylan is such a strong soloist that he can easily pull off a trio CD, but the addition of another front-line solo voice does add variety to the date.
In keeping with the theme of "Hidden Treasures", "More Treasures" presents original tunes based on standard chord sequences. Tunes by well-known composers such as Dameron, Gryce, Silver, Monk and Corea are included. But there is also a lovely original ballad ("Beautiful You") by Smulyan and an obscure medium swinger by Sal Nistico ("For You"). While the listener may have fun uncovering the standards on which these tunes are based (and some hints are provided in the liner notes), my advice is to just sit back and enjoy this swinging and often heated date.
Smulyan is the logical heir to Pepper Adams, but he has his own voice. His sound is huge and he is exceptionally fluent on the big baritone saxophone. Smulyan's improvising is intense and often "hot", but his solos have a logical shape which compels you to listen. Highlights of this generally straight-ahead and bop-oriented music include Mobley's "Wham and They're Off", Corea's "Chick's Tune", Smulyan's own "Beautiful You" (on which the Adams influence is most evident), Monk's swinging "Suburban Eyes," and Sonny Rollins' "Evans". The tempo and the exchanges on "Quick Silver" will have you smiling in amazement. But every tune is full of interest and there is not a weak moment on this well-recorded CD.
The rhythm section is excellent. LeDonne is a fluent bop-based soloist; Johns swings hard throughout and really nails the Latin flavor of Gryce's "Sans Souci". Dennis Irwin has played often with Smulyan and is everything a bassist should be, a strong and supporting ensemble player and an interesting but not overly flashly soloist.
Perhaps the only minor drawback to "More Treasures" is that at 52 minutes there was room for another track or two. But don't let this observation deter you. "More Treasures" is a highly recommended recording. Gary Smulyan is not only the top baritone saxophonist in jazz; he is one of the top improvising musicians in jazz today on any instrument."