Review by Larry Nai
from Cadence magazine (June 2000).
Saxophonist Smith directs the New England based Big and Phat Jazz Orchestra, whose repertoire has included the work of local composer/arrangers such as Ted Pease, Dick Lowell, and Phil Wilson, as well as Ellington, Carla Bley, John LaPorta, and Jimmy Giuffre. His Dialogues with pianist Arimasa are a well-chosen selection of originals, standards, and oughta-be standards, beginning with the absorbing, complementary harmonic worlds of “Beautiful Love” and “Alone Together.” Both tracks are impressive performances, showing Smith and Arimasa to have big ears pointed in interesting angles to each other.
Kenny Kirkland’s “Dienda” has a yearning melody, and is a feature for Smith’s beautiful articulation on soprano. The two “Dialogues,” apparently free improvs, use advanced harmonies, but are never far from a blues base; Arimasa has an engaging, agitated solo before the second of them ends. His “Blues Daniel” stretches the form’s conventions while celebrating them with off-kilter asides. The pianist’s rubato opening to the closing Jobim tune sets a deeply romantic tone. Smith initially extends the feel on soprano, but then tries to get a little playful, and it’s interesting to hear Arimasa pull him back; by tune’s end they’re both in the blue undertow that the piece suggests.