Impetus is the third album from the David Smith Quintet, featuring Smith's working band for the past several years, Dan Pratt on saxophones, Nate Radley on guitar, Gary Wang on bass and Anthony Pinciotti on drums. On Impetus Smith offers six original compositions that explore subtle tensions that drive the music forward.
The trumpeter/composer explains, "in several tunes I was looking for a tempo that was laid back enough that it created a subtle tension to move forward, like a spring that is pulled just a bit causing it to pull back." While Smith considers his compositions the foundation of his records, he is intent on finding the point of balance whereby the tune communicates a musical idea but remains open enough to allow creative space for the band to explore.
The first three tunes of Impetus make a continuous "suite". "Moments" is an understated, lyrical melody that sets the tone for the album. "Bond" was built upon the last two chords of "Moments" with the intention of them being continuous. Smith elaborates, "as a pair of tunes they sort of needed a foil to balance them out and segueing into "The Toaster" was working on gigs so I kept it. "The Toaster" was written in tribute to a tragically unfortunate mouse." "Seven" borrows its harmony from the Allegretto second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, resulting in something very different. "Starr St" is about a rough and tumble part of Bushwick, Brooklyn. "Intersection" was another attempt to capture the energy Smith was describing earlier, with the tempo sitting back and the "F" that exists throughout the entire tune creating a subtle but building tension until the last four measures of the recording when it is finally released.
Impetus was recorded live in a one-room studio to two-track analog tape, and also mastered directly from the tape; the mixing was completed before the band started playing. Smith wanted to capture the organic nature of the tunes and band dynamic and felt this was the best way to accomplish that.
At times Impetus betrays a rock influence, both musically and emotionally. Smith explains, "I feel this is acknowledging a part of where I came from musically, earlier in life. It wasn't a conscious decision, but rather what came out when I tried to write honest music." From the twenty-four minute suite that opens the recording, to the resolution in the last four measures, this is an album in the truest sense.