When Children Smile
This is an impressively thoughtful offering from a bassist often found in the company of thoughtful musicians. As a bassist, LaSpina evokes a wonderful sound, bent to the task by a solid time concept and intonation. That his understanding of the instrument is comprehensive comes through loud and clear on his solo on the CD's final tune, "Tailspin," which includes some very musical excerpts from the book of unorthodox techniques. His supporting cast is led by guitarist Vic Juris, who always seems to find an original route through any piece, with Dave Ballou on trumpet, Billy Drewes on tenor and soprano sax, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums rounding out the band. LaSpina's half dozen compositions carry us through a range of musical and emotional scenes, and the interpretations of Miles' "Solar" and Ornette's "Ramblin'" are fresh in both conception and execution.