Scottish saxophonist Smith, a teenage prodigy in the 80s, is nowadays one of the most widely respected of European jazz musicians – not just for his sax mastery, but for his influence on his homeland's jazz culture through the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and its youth wing he founded and still runs.
Smith can play the daylights out of full-on post-bop or explore north-Euro ambiance, but this is a hard-hitting fusion album – one that sounds pretty familiar at first, with its hammering backbeats (from the ferocious Alyn Cosker), slick unison choruses and Headhunters keyboard and bass guitar effects.
But Smith is much too smart for the obvious, and this set for what he calls his “grunge band” turns out to be a rare splicing of rich-toned, pipe-like themes, fiercely guttural up-tempo tenor improv, Arabic and Irish music, tight grooving that suggests Weather Report or Chris Potter's Underground band, and some haunting atmospherics from his shakuhachi bamboo flute. Smith's compositions are way ahead of the usual slam-bang fusion forays, and the sombrely pensive Star (based on an Irish folk song) is a great sax-ballad performance.
'KARMA…'Best Album' – Scottish Jazz Awards 2012 & nominated in 2012 Scottish Album of the Year Awards'
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