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Take Five With Jonathan Smith

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Meet Jonathan Smith:
Portland, Oregon jazz guitarist, playing in the stylistic tradition of Grant Green
Grant Green
Grant Green
1935 - 1979
guitar
.

Instrument(s):
Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences?
Dan Balmer, Bruce Forman
Bruce Forman
b.1956
, and many other great musicians I've had the good fortune to spend time with. A few special influences are: Ingrid Jensen
Ingrid Jensen
Ingrid Jensen
b.1966
trumpet
, Benny Green
Benny Green
Benny Green
b.1963
piano
, Randy Porter, Quincy Davis, and Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
b.1926
guitar
.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I have been passionate about music since childhood. I guess I always wanted to be a musician.

Your sound and approach to music:
I love jazz because it is spontaneous and improvised. My approach is to continue learning and playing with other musicians. Composing music is still a fairly new facet of my musicianship, and I draw upon many inspirations when creating a tune.

Your teaching approach:
It's really all about how much you practice.

Your dream band:
There are so many musicians I'd love to play with. I am happy to play with many of the great players in Portland on a regular basis. I think my latest dream band is the Clayton Brothers; all I can say is wow!

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Maybe this is pertinent: after just having discussed the growing topic of bed bugs, mid-solo I glanced down at the stage floor and saw what I thought was, or very well might have been, a bed bug scurrying across. So I went for it.

Favorite venue:
Ch'Boogie Jazz Club in Newport, on the Oregon Coast. This is a great venue, with friendly staff, nice atmosphere and a fantastic listening audience. Oh yeah—the food is amazing, too.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
I really like "Blues for Mandy," it gets great feedback from listeners. I'm told it reminds people of theme from Pink Panther.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Certainly one of the first I remember was Les McCann & Eddie Harris, Swiss Movement. I still love it!

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
A love for jazz, enjoying the journey.

Did you know...
I played saxophone before picking up the guitar.

CDs you are listening to now:
George Benson, It's Uptown; Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
, Cornbread (Blue Note); Blue Mitchell
Blue Mitchell
Blue Mitchell
b.1930
trumpet
, The Thing to Do (Blue Note).

Desert Island picks:
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
, Somethin' Else (Blue Note); Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
b.1926
sax, tenor
, Triple Threat (Riverside); Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
1932 - 1975
arranger
, Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse!); Hank Mobley
Hank Mobley
Hank Mobley
1930 - 1986
sax, tenor
, Soul Station (Blue Note); Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, Changes One (Atlantic).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
It is unfortunate there is not a bigger awareness of jazz in comparison to the commercially produced, mass-marketed music. Jazz lovers will continue to support this music but it is a small audience.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Support live jazz in our communities, buy jazz music, expose our kids to good music.

What is in the near future?
Hopefully lots more gigs upcoming.

By Day:
Musician 24/7.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Firefighter (again). Spent almost 30 years doing this and it was an awesome career.

Photo Credit

Jonathan Smith

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