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December 2004

Ian Hendrickson-Smith
Still Smokin'
Sharp Nine

Still Smokin' (Sharp Nine) provides a follow-up to altoist Ian Hendrickson-Smith's debut album as a leader, Up in Smoke!, and like its predecessor the CD was recorded live at the New York club Smoke and features pianist David Hazeltine and drummer Joe Strasser, but this time, the bassist is Peter Washing-ton. Also aboard for several tracks are trumpeter Ryan Kisor and guitarist Peter Bernstein. As before, the music is hardcore hard bop, performed with great confidence and irrepressible spirit. Hendrickson-Smith's illustrious sidemen may be better known than he, but he never plays second fiddle. On contrasting tunes like the hard-charging "Love for Sale" and Hazeltine's lovely "Ian's Bossa," as indeed throughout the album, his advanced abilities are abundantly clear. And his nice flute work on "I Can't Get Started" mimics his alto approach. The other soloists also provide strong improvisations, Hazeltine frequently weaving long double-time lines through the chord changes and Kysor conjuring up images of the great Blue Note trumpeters. In his brief appearances, Bernstein maintains the standard.

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Manuela Paz

Ian Hendrickson-Smith

Originally published in December 2004
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