Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies : Fortune Songs

Because of new recording technologies, it is possible to make a CD faster and cheaper than ever before. Jazz albums are flooding the market. Some claim that oversupply is devaluing the music, yet many of these albums need to be heard.

Jasmine Lovell-Smith is a meticulous soprano saxophonist and composer from New Zealand. The rest of her excellent unknown quintet is from Canada (pianist Cat Toren, bassist Patrick Reid) and the United States (trumpeter Russell Moore, drummer Kate Pittman). They play honest, intelligent chamber jazz, stark in its minimalism, gentle in its dissonance, firm in its lyricism. Lovell-Smith’s eight compositions are finely etched melodies and deceptively intricate counterpoint. The moods are so subdued and the musical surfaces so alluring that Fortune Songs could serve as background music, but only for people smart enough to require a continuous stream of fresh ideas in their aural atmospheres. A promising debut.