“The title of the disc is appropriate: (SWINGIN’ IS BELIEVIN’) it really swings through the acceleration instilled by drummer Smith and his band. The opening piece, with alto saxophonist Beals, tenor player Burton, and trombonist Gardner in the front line, states the case in fast-paced terms established by the rules of Hard Bop. Added thrust comes from the percussion of Thoms. Thereafter, Smith breaks down the band into smaller units and alters the personnel while keeping constant the trio of pianist Germanson and bassist Hawkins. Hart on alto sax joins the trio on four selections to sustain the momentum, Gross on soprano drops in for a mood changing ballad, Beals returns for another quartet romp in the “Moanin” vernacular, and two other selections feature an expanded group with heavy emphasis on the drums.
Smith’s winning formula stems from his ability to keep the music cooking with his assertive drumming and by allowing each of the musicians to do a bit of stretching, such as when Hart wails on Shorter’s “This Is For Albert.” The leader gets a big sound out of each configuration of musicians, but the selections featuring multiple reeds and brass display the biggest bang. Even the devotional “Lord I Give Myself To You” simmers. A bonus with this cd comes from being able to see the trio at work on a video track to witness Smith in action. Germanson’s heavy comping pushes the music while Smith drives the film’s message home.”