December 1997

James Spaulding
The Smile of The Snake
HighNote Records

One of those overlooked artists worthy of anyone's underrated listing, James Spaulding is a consistent multi-reed and flute exponent who always swings-in the true Indianapolis tradition where he was raised. Here he works with a simpatico trio of pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Tony Reedus, tasteful and ultra-professional musicians all.

The program is a fine blend of fresh contributions, including two from the skilled pen of Memphis pianist Donald Brown, a writer whose skills should be more widely utilized. It is on alto saxophone where Spaulding has been making valuable contributions on the scene for over 30 years, yet his flute should not be overlooked in a time when jazz flute is in short supply. And dig his use of the rarely heard bass flute as an improvisational vehicle; Spaulding rewards the listener with two helpings of this dark beauty. The title track is an appropriately misterioso piece invested with an edgy alto line.

Originally published in December 1997
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