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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.
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.