Jazz CD Reviews

Ian Hendrickson-Smith, reeds – Tonight Is Now – Cellar Live

A stellar cast in a straight-ahead swinging session.

Published on October 31, 2013

Ian Hendrickson-Smith, reeds – Tonight Is Now – Cellar Live

Ian Hendrickson-Smith – Tonight Is Now – Cellar Live CL050113, 48:51 ***½:

(Ian Hendrickson-Smith – alto saxophone & flute; Philip Harper – trumpet; Adam Scone – Hammond B-3 organ; Loston Harris – Wurlitzer electric piano; Charles Ruggiero – drums)

Who among you can recall a jazz musician with a hyphenated last name? I thought so. So apart from his unusual moniker, what else does Ian Hendrickson-Smith have to recommend him? He does have seven previous albums as a leader and has been a side-man for a diverse group of musicians such as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Amy Winehouse, Michael Bublé and Al Green among many others. In Tonight Is Now he has surrounded himself with a stellar cast in a straight-ahead swinging session.

In this six-track set, the leader composed three of the tunes with the others coming from some well-known names both in and out of jazz. Starting out with Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke” with its readily recognizable opening bars done in a slightly up-tempo mode, which then allows Hendrickson-Smith to engage in an extended alto solo confirming that he has the chops to keep the listeners interested, along with trumpeter Philip Harper and Loston Harris on piano. Of the other third-party originals Eddie Harris’s “Brother Ed” is a bluesy number which showcases the leader’s strength on flute and then Burt Bacharach’s “ This Guy’s In Love With You” with Adam Scone on the B-3 taking the lead  both on the melody and filling up the solo space quite nicely in a laid-back fashion.

The leader’s three compositions are “The Sorry For Laughing Blues”, “All That Glitters” and “Up In Perks” each of which is just fine, but none are destined for immortality or to be covered by other bands. The last composition is probably the most interesting as it has an infectious lilt and plenty of open space that allows each of the band members an opportunity to express themselves and show their dexterity on their chosen instruments. If you are not familiar with Ian Hendrickson-Smith, this is probably as good a place to start as any.

TrackList: The Duke; Brother Ed; The Sorry For Laughing Blues; This Guy’s In Love With You; All That Glitters; Up In Perks

—Pierre Giroux




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