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Live at Smoke by David Berkman Quartet

David Berkman and his quartet pay fine tribute to the Manhattan Jazz Club, Smoke, on this live album, which was recorded at the storied venue. Located on 106th and Broadway, the club has also been the source of inspiration for another artist, writer Paul Auster, who based the main character of the film "Smoke" on the club's former owner, a character played by Harvey Keitel in the movie.

Berkman calls this album, "...a collaboration between the club and the band." While they weren't handing out kazoos at the door the night of the show, it's obvious that the venue contributed quite a bit to this recording. The band seems very comfortable and alive, playing a silky but energetic form of be-bop that feeds off of crowd energy. Whether trading fours with drummer Ted Poor on "Along Came Betty," or letting loose a crowd pleasing blues inflected solo on "The Mayor of Smoke" together with tenor saxman Jimmy Greene, Berkman makes it his aim to interact with the audience on this disk.

Although there are some undesirable bits of interaction, such as the noise of clanging silverware being thrashed by the club's staff during one of Poor's drum solos, the recording quality is, for the most part, excellent. All in all, the quartet put forth a fine effort here, using a contemporary be-bop framework to deliver a very inspired performance.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: David Berkman Quartet
  • CD Title: Live at Smoke
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Challenge Records Int.
  • Tracks: Weird Knack, The Mayor of Smoke, Simple Pleasures, Along Came Betty, Hidden Fondness, Carroll Street Pop Tune
  • Musicians: Jimmy Greene (Tenor and Soprano Saxophones), David Berkman (Piano), Ed Howard (Bass), Ted Poor (Drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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