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Gary Smulyan: More Treasures

It’s clearly permissible to use the F-word-fluent (as well as fleet-fingered and fiery)-in reference to baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan and his More Treasures, the follow-up to last year’s wonder-filled Hidden Treasures. This one mostly burns from the start and seldom lets up until the smoke clears with the final notes. As a matter of fact, if there’s one minor bit of carping regarding this outing it’s that it may hold a bit too much intense, hard-driving blowing. Only the Smulyan ballad “Beautiful You,” as well as two medium-tempo swingers, Tadd Dameron’s “Stop” and Sal Nistico’s “For You,” are less than blistering.

Smulyan continues to get around the big horn with so much technical skill and such a wealth of improvising ideas that those who might be less than enamored by the baritone will find it difficult to dismiss his artful playing. If you get off on really quick-paced efforts just try this album’s “Wham & They’re Off,” penned by Hank Mobley, or Horace Silver’s “Quick Silver” for toe-tapping-if you can keep up. “Chick’s Tune” by Chick Corea, Gigi Gryce’s “San Souci,” Thelonious Monk’s “Suburban Eyes” and “Evans” by Sonny Rollins turn the heat down just a bit.

The team is different for this treasure trove, with pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Steve Johns instead of the pianoless support of Christian McBride’s bass and Billy Drummond’s drums on the earlier release. LeDonne, however, sits out for four of the CD’s nine tracks. The pianist’s accompaniment and solos are consistently worthy of note.

Originally Published