In today’s cultural climate of ironic detachment and post-millennial cool, it’s easy to be cynical about such lofty sentiments as peace, love, consciousness and enlightenment. In Smith’s case at least, it’s much more difficult to resist the medium which brings the message. As veteran jazz critic Nat Hentoff comments in the original liner notes to the ‘Expansions’ (1974) album, “There is power here, but it’s the power of serenity”. He wasn’t wrong. Few songs, at least few dancefloor anthems, have the ability to soothe and heal the soul while simultaneously exciting and enervating the senses. ‘Expansions’ does that and more, its dizzying, multilayered piano and keyboards, kinetic bassline and percussive complexity conspiring to transcend the boundaries of both jazz and funk.
Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby is the debut studio album by Terence Trent D'Arby. It was released in July 1987 on Columbia Records, and became an instant number one smash in the UK, spending a total of nine weeks at the top of the UK Albums Chart. It was eventually certified 5x Platinum. Worldwide, the album sold a million copies within the first three days of going on sale. The album's success was slower in the U.S. It was released there in October 1987, eventually peaking at number four on May 7, 1988 – the same week that the single "Wishing Well" hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It did peak higher on the Billboard R&B Albums chart at #1 around the same time.
The trio of Craig Handy (on tenor and soprano), bassist Charles Fambrough, and drummer Ralph Peterson lives up to its potential during a wide-ranging set. The improvisations are explorative yet melodic and logical, while the interplay between these talented players is consistently impressive. Together they explore tributes to Clifford Jordan and George Adams and at times hint at Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and even Grover Washington, Jr.. Pianist David Kikoski is heard on four selections, but his presence is actually unnecessary. Handy's unaccompanied solo on "West Bank: Beyond the Berlin Wall" is a highlight of this recommended disc.