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Take Five With...

Take Five With Jay Smith

By Published: January 23, 2011
Know your instrument extremely well. Know every major and minor scale without any hesitation and every chord/scale relationship. Playing at the level you want to play at requires less thought and more instinct. Thought, when playing, completely gets in the way which means you need to do know your instrument so well that you don't have to think about where things are or how to reach a note in a particular key. This allows you to focus on interacting with the other musicians you're playing with to create more cohesive music.

Most importantly—don't get comfortable! If you find yourself doing the same things and sounding the same, try something different. Music is a lifelong endeavor and you'll (hopefully) still be trying to get better 30 years from now.

There's always something to learn and somewhere new to go on your instrument. The tough thing is that it's up to you to find it.

Your dream band:

I've always wanted to put together a large band (30 piece+), but that's almost impossible to tour with these days considering costs.

Favorite venue:

There a several. I actually prefer to play smaller venues just because they are more intimate. I feed off of the crowd and that's hard to do in larger arenas or TV. It's almost like your isolated and I find it's much harder to replicate for camera what you might sound like at a live, intimate venue without that feeling of people waiting to see what you'll do next.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? As clich as it sounds, my two current projects (with my groups Kelulu and my new trio, The Jay Smith Trio) are my favorites because I feel like I'm making two albums with my friends.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Djangology, by Quintette du Hot Club de France. It was the first recording the group did after World War II (Stéphane and Django parted ways; Reinhardt returned to Paris at once, leaving his wife behind. Grappelli remained in the United Kingdom for the duration of the war. Some say it doesn't have the magic of their earlier recordings and I can see that. Still, for me, I was amazed at what could be done without drums.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Nick Rail Music, The Arts Council of Kern, Younger Audiences, Arts for Learning and the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop are the companies that I'm teaching with currently and I take a lot of pride from being with these organizations.

I get to teach residencies with most of these organizations (which is fantastic), but with the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop, I volunteer my time once a week with a small class of eager high school kids. In the three years that I've taught with the organization, the kids have come a long way. They've even open up for Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
b.1977
drums
just recently. So I'm very pleased to see these kids make their way into the world of Jazz and I see much of myself in all of them when I first started.

Did you know...

I love to draw and paint but I never get a chance to do so.

CDs you are listening to now:

Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
b.1951
bass
Band, Jazz in the Garden (Heads Up));

The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus

band/orchestra
, Prog (Heads Up);

Art Tatum, The Greatest Piano Hits of Them All (Verve);

Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Solid State, Blue Note);

Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
, Junjo (Ayva Music).

Desert Island picks:

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia);

Art Tatum, The Greatest Piano Hits of Them All (Verve);

Hiromi
Hiromi
Hiromi
b.1979
piano
Uehara, Time Control (Telarc International);

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, The Complete Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong on Verve (Verve);

Vince Guaraldi
Vince Guaraldi
Vince Guaraldi
1928 - 1976
piano
Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (album) (Fantasy).

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Jay Smith
Jay Smith
Jay Smith
b.1983
piano


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