REVIEW: Jessika Smith Big Band’s “Tricks Of Light”

Jessika Smith Big Band photo JessikaSmith_cover_zpskzdyttw7.jpg There is always an overwhelming amount of new jazz released each year and while I don’t get to hear even a quarter of everything, it’s nice when one comes through. Saxophonist Jessika Smith has created an album with her big band ans released Tricks Of Light (PJCE), which sounds like the kind of huge production you’d expect to hear on albums from the 60’s or 70’s. What I hear is nice arrangements and musicianship from everyone involved, which reminds me of work by Duke Ellington, Sten Kenton, or Sonny Rollins. Most of the compositions were done by Smith herself and while she does a bit of saxophone work throughout, the band has a battalion of musicians that help tell the stories in their own way, to the point where you just want to sit back, relax and find out where they’ll take you. Smith co-produced this entire project with Lance Miller and it’s hard to spot any bad moments on this, as I don’t hear it, or at least I’m not specifically looking or listening for it. I allowed this to carry me to the end and Tricks Of Light could have easily been titled Tricks Of Sound but that light is very much a delight as well.

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