Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Most Pleasant Surprise from Warren Smith

Drummer-vibist-percussionist-composer Warren Smith has been showing his worth through countless sessions and dates for a long, long time. Yet I think I've been inclined to take him for granted. But not after hearing his big band recording Old News, Borrowed Blues (Engine). Warren culled together some of his earlier pieces, fleshed out the charts for a 15 piece ensemble, and set to work.

A Reggae number, burners and more ambitious fare fill this disk. The band has a gritty attack and the ability to groove on a dime. They make up in feeling what they may lack in polish, which is only to say that they do not go in for the slick, eviscerated kind of big band music you can hear out there. That's important I think.

I came away from this CD with a great respect for Mr. Smith the bandleader-arranger-composer. His Composers Workshop Ensemble should be heard more widely. One hopes he can arrange further sessions and releases. This one is a kicker and has that infectious intensity of purpose that the best music needs to have to be great.

Engine Records is affiliated with ESP Disk. Google the ESP site to order.

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