Search - James Spaulding :: Smile of the Snake

Smile of the Snake
James Spaulding
Smile of the Snake
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: James Spaulding
Title: Smile of the Snake
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: HighNote Records
Original Release Date: 8/4/1997
Re-Release Date: 7/15/1997
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 632375700621

CD Reviews

First-rate jazz quartet
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 03/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Call James Spaulding one of jazz's best-kept secrets. Call him Mr. Inside/Outside for his ability to swing hard but also keep you on the edge of your seat with the feeling he could fly into space at any moment. Call him versatile for his ability to switch between alto and various flutes effortlessly. But be sure to call him a great player because that's what he is. And be sure to call this album a gem.Spaulding tells you everything you need to know about his ability with the first two songs of "Smile of the Snake." He kicks things off with an alto cooker, "Third Avenue," a rousing romp that shows off his ability to rip through changes in the upper register of the alto. He comes right back with the aptly named "Serenity," on the bass flute, of all things. (When is the last time you even heard that instrument used on a performance, much less as a solo voice?) Spaulding produces a lovely, ethereal tune, backed nicely by Richard Wyands' impressionistic piano.And so the rest of this fine album goes: fiery, pedal-to-the-metal sax mixed with lush, gorgeous tunes on the flute (he plays regular flute as well.) Others who have followed Spaulding's career have commented on Spaulding's versatility, but it bears repeating. There are very few players who move seamlessly from sax to flute and bring the same intensity and attention to each instrument. Spaulding is one. (Check out his flowing flute ideas on "Lenora" and "Havana Days" as examples.)I was also pleased to see Spaulding joined up with some guys I hadn't heard much from (at least on recordings) in a while. The aforementioned Wyands, who played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Richard Williams, among others, in the '60s, is terrific on this CD. He has a bright, swinging tone, and his more spare approach contrasts well with Spaulding's dense attack. He's at his most effective on the CD's title cut.Ron McClure and Tony Reedus, on bass and drums respectively, round out the band nicely. To hear how effectively they contribute to the quartet, listen to "Havana Days," a kicking Latin groove that brings the session to a satisfying close.In one sense it's too bad that Spaulding has to go to a small label to get recorded, but in another sense it's OK. You can tell he got to play exactly what he wanted. There are no compromises on "Smile of the Snake," an aptly named release that fuses gentleness and fury in one terrific session."
Freddie Hubbard/Hank Mobley/Sun Ra Sideman : Deep & Soulful
Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 05/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have to admit, although I actually had plenty of albums with Spaulding as a sideman, I never really paid much attention to him, until meeting him at the Jazz Standard. - - Its like a lot of great Jazz albums you might hear driving down the road on WBGO... the grooves themselves are so encompassing you kinda forget that there are "people" making the music, and the music itself becomes an entity, and all you want to know is "who did it" so you can get the album.Anyway, it was his birthday. Mel Rhyne was doing his Remembering Wes album and I was a guest of a friend of his. - - He wasn't prominantly featured during that incredible set (which included Peter Bernstein on guitar as I recall), but he blew enough to impress me, and the radiance of his personality also drew me to him. According to John Patton who was also there, Spaulding is Baaaaaaaaaaaad. I kinda figured that out, so finally I got his album. - - Baaaaaaaaaaaaaad is an understatement.The vibe when I listen to him is kind of a cross between Yusef Lateef and Hank Mobley (who he was a sideman too along with Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner and David Murray.) The music is impressionistic yet swinging. He plays flute and alto with incredibly thought provoking phrasing. Like the abovementioned Lateef, Mobley and let me add Coletrane, his melodies and phrasings make you really think. Sometimes his playing is wild and outside, other times, beautifully melodic. It can be both dark and bright at the same time. - - While clearly he carries this session, the ensemble shines with soulful and ambiant brilliance who carry him stunningly. (Richard Wyands on piano, Ron McClure on bass, Tony Reedus on Drums) I love this album... it was recorded in 1997, but if you changed the cover and told me it was a digitally remastered classic '60s Prestige or Blue Note recording, you could have fooled me."