Daniel Smith is the Elvis Presley of the bassoon.
Like the King himself, who took a then-obscure style and turned it into the world’s most popular forms of music, Smith is single-handedly bringing the obscure woodwind into its long-deserved, though long-deprived, spotlight (minus the seductive hips).
“I consider myself a revolutionary,” he said last week, before kicking off a weekly gig at Puppet’s Jazz Bar in Park Slope. “Not many people have heard the bassoon the way I play it.”
You could have stopped that sentence at the word “bassoon.” But Smith, who has been playing the music world’s least-appreciated instrument for 45 years, is trying to change that, too, by crossing the line from classical to jazz.
In some songs, his bassoon sounds like a trumpet. In others, a sax. In all songs, it sounded amazing.
No wonder Puppets owner Jamie Affoumado was excited about Smith’s open-ended run.
“I’m incredibly pleased,” he said. “I love the instrument. And it looks like he could bring in a crowd.”
Oddly given his gifts, the bassoon was not Smith’s his first love. He began with the flute and saxophone, but — as with most people who’ve tired of the meaningless one-night flings — he eventually settled down with his bassoon.
“I took it up to make a living,” he said. “Began playing classical, but eventually I just drifted into jazz.”
He denied that the bassoon is a laughingstock of the music world.
“Actually, it’s one of the most difficult instruments to play,” said Smith, whose 20th album, “Blue Bassoon” will be available next month. “Where the confusion might be coming from is that almost everybody, musician or otherwise, can’t imagine the bassoon as a viable jazz instrument, which I am proving wrong.”
Daniel Smith’s Bassoon and Beyond at Puppet’s Jazz Bar [481 Fifth Ave. between 11th and 12th streets, (718) 499-2622], first Tuesday of the month, beginning Aug. 4, 9 pm to 1 am. For info, visit www.puppetsjazz.com.
©2009 Community News Group
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