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Jamie Alexander Smith: Kinesis

Bruce Lindsay By

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Kinesis, from the young Edinburgh based pianist Jamie Alexander Smith, is sub-titled Four Improvisations On Piano. The sub-title pretty much explains things—on a basic level and except for the fact that a fifth track, "WKG," puts in an appearance. Of course, while the basic level of explanation hints at Smith's compositional approach and makes his instrument of choice clear, it doesn't give any real indication of the music on offer.

So what can be expected from the improvising pianist? Maybe some free-form passages, some aggressive pounding on the keyboard, dissonance? Smith is never in thrall to these improvisational clichés. His approach stresses rhythm and melody and his playing is characterised by a cool confidence—he's in control, mind always ahead of his hands.

On "Release" Smith's delicate right hand patterns sparkle. "Kinetic" has the skittish energy the title suggests—the right hand is now more percussive, more frenetic. Shifts of pace and tone come thick and fast on "Undercurrent" and "WKG." Numerous ideas emerge, yet both tunes have a basic cohesiveness—the ideas never jar with each other, never sound random or haphazard. "Channelling" channels the spirit of the blues, a spot of stride, a bit of boogie. It's immediately engaging and likeable—a familiar sound that doesn't stretch Smith's imagination but does show that he can lay down some old-school grooves.

Kinesis clocks in at around 20 minutes, enough time for Smith to demonstrate his imaginative scope as well as his musical chops. If Smith can maintain this level of inventive musicianship across a full-length album then he's definitely a player with potential.

Track Listing: Kinetic; Undercurrent; Channelling; Release; WKG (Bonus Track).

Personnel: Jamie Smith: piano.

Title: Kinesis | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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