Sarah Walker first came across the music of Dave Smith in 1989, while studying for a doctorate concerning the English Experimental tradition. The academic interest grew into a close involvement with Dave's music, which she went on to play as a soloist and duettist, with another legend of the experimental scene, composer John White. The seven tracks on this eagerly-awaited album were recorded in a very special venue, the recital room at the Waggon and Horses in the remote West Country village of Doulting Beacon. Proprietor Francisco Cardona ran regular series of jazz and classical concerts in this long, atmospheric room, once a bowling alley and later possessed of a fine Steinway grand. Smith's music came to life in this tranquil space - hints of birdsong give a sense of place in the quietest track, Afterhours, which has the ambience of free jazz. The first track, Maxixe, has been featured on BBC Radio 3, after presenter Rob Cowan fell in love with it's lively, Latin feel. Many listeners will be aware of Sarah Walker's work as a broadcaster; she contributed as a presenter and pianist to The Chopin Experience (2008; nominated for a Sony award), and has been closely involved as host and performer in Radio 3's Pianothon. Her earlier album South of the River: music by Hugh Shrapnel was acclaimed by Howard Skempton, who declared that 'the playing is lovely throughout, and there is much of rare (and dare I say feline) delicacy.' This album shows a more aggressive side to Walker's talent, with some highly virtuosic tracks such as Number seven's done a runner, with it's jagged rhythms and exciting, cumulative structure, while the final track, Al contrario, presents a meditative study in G sharp minor which some listeners have compared to a cathedral: probing, intellectual music on a grand scale. These two tracks, along with the invigorating and unashamedly fun Disco soleil brillant, are premiere recordings. CDs of the music of Dave Smith are not easy to find - John Tilbury and Smith himself are two notable precedents - and this album is a welcome addition to the catalogue. The disc is accompanied by an eight-page booklet with biographies of Sarah Walker and Dave Smith, full programme notes on these fascinating pieces and a personal introduction by the pianist.