Guitarist Roger Smith is well known for his long association with the late John Stevens’ now legendary, Spontaneous Music Ensemble of which he spent nearly 20 years. Smith is recognized for his ingenuity as a free-improvisational guitarist. Here, on Extended Plays-Improvised Solos we are treated to 9 pieces from this truly amazing, starkly original and somewhat under appreciated guitarist. Throughout, Smith utilizes an unamplified acoustic guitar.
Smith is a master improviser and possesses a unique, singular voice. A one-time student of the elder Derek Bailey, Smith incorporates a somewhat different approach. Roger Smith infuses melody into his improvisations although briefly stated, yet as an improvising guitarist, Smith displays enormous technique and seems well versed in various genres. Smith’s performances throughout these pieces encompass a wide spectrum of ideas and applications. At times, Smith demonstrates the adept proficiencies of a seasoned flamenco guitarist yet Smith’s charter is to deconstruct traditional implementations through his seemingly boundless creative vision. Themes and motifs are fabricated around fragments then expanded upon. Smith also dazzles via amazing speed, complete with “hammer-ons” and rhythmic wit as his ulterior motive lies within the improvisations or compositions as a whole. Smith does not sacrifice musical statements or expressionism in lieu of his noticeably gifted tehncical abilities. Flautist Neil Metcalfe joins Smith on an interesting piece titled, “Two In The Afternoon”.
Complete with the usual candid and informative liners by Martin Davidson, Extended Plays provides us with an enlightening glimpse or perspective of this brilliant and somewhat under recognized guitarist-improviser. * * * *
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.