Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Another glorious hour of musical mayhem from the talented fingers of Daniel Smith, featuring boogie-woogie, hard bop, soul, blues, New Orleans Jazz and several other genre besides. Pure jazz gold.
To a busy Jazz Bar on Chambers Street where a lot of music fans had either foregone lunch, opted for a liquid one in place of the panini or whatever passes for their normal fodder or were just happy to consume the delicious serving of boogie-woogie, hard bop, soul, blues and New Orleans Jazz offered up by Daniel Smith in an hour of sublime musical mayhem.
The smooth-talking Smith, a man with fingers so dexterous that he seems to be playing well in excess of ten notes at any one time, wasted no time in getting us underway with Chewin’ The Fat and barely had the applause died away but he was off again, this time with My Babe, a Willy Dickson number.
So the pattern continued in this high-octane hour. A burst of brilliant music, interspersed with some very entertaining, droll patter that provided the background to each piece, revealing Smith’s passion for all forms of jazz and jamming as well as a striking ability to tell a good story, often whilst tinkling away in the background. Think Jools Holland, but with decent jokes.
But it’s the music that’s the centre of this wonderful hour of entertainment. We had a set that incorporated several of Smith’s own delightful compositions, including Forgotten Hero and You and Me, to which he added numbers from Herbie Hancock, Professor Longhair, Pinetop Smith and several others. We even had time for a couple of rock and roll numbers – one from Tommy Tucker (Hi-Heel Sneakers) and Bill Haley and The Comets driving tune Shake, Rattle ‘N Roll.
There was also a delightful medley that allowed Smith to demonstrate how boogie-woogie is put together and the different left hand techniques employed by a range of its practitioners, including of course the aforementioned Pinetop Smith, credited with the invention of this genre.
Accompanying Smith this year was the accomplished jazz guitarist, Scott Hannah and there’s clearly a trust and chemistry between these two musicians, with Hannah happy to follow Smith’s lead and having no difficulty in putting together a jamming bridge at about a second’s notice following a whisper from his colleague. Smith calling the key changes as they went through some of the numbers also added a delightful air of informality to proceedings, as well as reinforcing the fact that both he and Hannah are absolute masters of their craft.
This was really great music and the appreciative audience would have happily settled in for a second set had time permitted. Sadly it didn’t and that’s the end of his appearances in this year’s Fringe but he is sure to be about the jazz scene somewhere before we reconvene in 2018. Seek him out – you won’t be disappointed.