It's a treat to see Derek Smith play live! This creative and energetic pianist conveys his enthusiasm to the audience with personality and body language. This is particularly evident in his famed duet sessions with Dick Hyman who tends to let his fingers do the talking. However,without any visual impact, this CD lies up to its title.
The classically-trained Smith arrived in New York from London in 1957 following gigs with Johnny Dankworth and the BBC. He was on the Basin Street East house band and Doc Severinson's "Tonight Show" band. Smith's distinguished career has resulted in over 20 releases under his name. On this album, he receives rock-solid support from master drummer Joe Ascione and bassist Nicki Parrott. This remarkable young Australian woman has recorded with Clark Terry,Slide Hampton and Johnny Varro. She possesses a rich tone, a great sense of time. and is deservedly featured throughout this vibrant session.
Fingers fly, percussive chords abound and the band cooks from the hard-groovin' opener,"Like Someone in Love" to a closing romp through Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas. A dozen well-chosen ballads and two Rollins' originals are given a fresh look. "Doxy" is funk/gospel with a twist of blues and a light-hearted Parrott solo. "Teach Me Tonight is seductive. And there is no doubt that the extroverted Smith has an introspective side. This shows up on an intensely emotional treatment of "Concerto de Aranjuez" and a wistful "Lazy Afternoon." There is contrast. The haunting "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is followed by a samba version of "Here's That Rainy Day." There is surprise. Derek opens "Fools Rush In" and "Green Dolphin Street" with romantic and lyrical intros but (in the words of Chuck Berg's liner notes) -then BOOM!
High energy indeed! Smith and Ascione are in top form as always and bassist Nicki Parrott is a find. Watch for her.