Guitarist/composer/educator Greg Smith attempts an ambitious synthesis within adult contemporary jazz intended to jettison his jazz vision from the maudlin confines of what passes for "smooth jazz today. Smith is not satisfied with the cliché throbbing synthesizers and intellectually deprived virtuosity plaguing the majority of jazz ostensibly intended for greater crossover appeal. Smith's approach is successful in its intentions on Above The Clouds.
This recording is a collection of original compositions that function as an integrated suite or "tone poem of music that touches the corner of multiple genres in an effort to assimilate these differing styles into a cohesive uber-performance. Smith has a unique ability to compose hook-filled pieces that you may well be humming later in the day after one spin of the disc. Infectious pretty well describes the entire phenomenon. Add to this the technical aspects of reveberation with a slight delay, and the resulting sound is very much Smith's own.
The title track offers a lilting example of guitar made ethereal. Smith achieves a sitar-like tone that gives the song, constructed over Western harmonies, a decidedly Eastern flavor, like a hint of curry in one's pasta. The solution of styles is provocative. Another example, "Mountain Hike, immediately takes on a Monterey-to-San Francisco feel in Smith's rhythum accompaniment to this solidly melodic song. Smith's obbligato and improvised solos are thoughtful and cleverly constructed not to waste noteslikewise, the entire recording. Above The Clouds is Greg Smith's shot across the bow of boring "smooth jazz, showing that the genre can be much, much more.
Track Listing: Above The Clouds; Mountain Hike; Stop Sign In Brazil; D's Dream; Lava; Appaloosa; Forties; Valgar; Summer Sand; Calamity; Chessmates; Wren Song; Figaro Tree; Postlude: Back Into The Clouds.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.