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.
Personnel: Greg Smith: guitars.
Year Released: 2006
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Beyond Jazz
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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