Bassoon-focused covers of Swing chestnuts may at first seem foolhardy, if ballsy. Yet Smith has already lugged his ax into the studio to record a set of Bop tunes on bassoon, so this is a more snug, if still daring, fit.
Aside from an obscure Hank Mobley tune (?Home at Last?) the set list is not that adventurous, with Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Basie, and Charlie Parker represented by more or less signature tunes. The take on Parker?s ?Scrapple in the Apple? deserves props just because the song itself is so damn challenging no matter the instrument. For the most part, though, this is what you might expect: straight-ahead swing arrangements, but with bassoon. Drummer Ludwig Alfonso sure does swing, and John Sullivan on bass anchors the tunes. While at first listen, each song kicks in with the familiar structure of swing with the jarring addition of the bassoon, making each track walk a tight-rope right off the bat: will this really swing, or is this a novelty? Smith?s chops and warm knowledge of these classics does make them swing, and while there is humor in his lines, it does not come unintentionally or as a gimmick. This is a sincere set, if one that takes your ears some time to really dig it. 5/10 -- Mike Wood (14 August, 2007)