Steve Smith: Elm
Steve Smith (bass)
Chantal's Way (Double Time DTRCD 148)
Composed by Richie Bierach.
Recorded: Sorcerer Sound Studios, March 6-7, 1996
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Relatively obscure bassist Steve Smith (not to be confused with the drummer of the same name) joins effectively with the underrated piano virtuoso Richie Bierach and drummer Jabali Billy Hart to produce a deeply expressionistic representation of fine piano trio music. On Bierach's neatly tailored ballad, we hear a pianistic style that shows great reverence to its classical roots while retaining the transcendent quality of improvisational freedom and expression so essential to jazz. Bierach is sympathetically accompanied by Smith's respectfully subdued, heartbeat basslines and Hart's almost wistful brush and stick work. The composition is evocatively dreamy in the way it weaves a feeling of being somewhere secret. Smith and Hart allow Bierach to spin his magic almost unobstructed, and he does so with a quiet serenity that lulls you into his hidden world as if he alone knows the way and you must follow or be lost forever. His touch is extraordinarily light here, and he demonstrates a mastery of feeling that few of his contemporaries on the instrument can match.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello