If there were brick & mortar establishments called record stores today, one could imagine the challenge Nate Smith
projects would pose for an employee trying to file his latest releases. Those familiar with the drummer's work in the bands of Chris Potter
, Dave Holland
, or Alex Sipiagin
might place the discs in the jazz section, but then again he's worked with the jazz/pop/soul singers José James
and Norah Jones
and he heads up the funk/soul band The Fearless Flyers. Kinfolk 2: See The Birds
is the second in a trilogy and it follows Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere
(Waterbaby Music/Ropeadope, 2017).
As with the previous release, Smith draws from his musical background and influences. Like most folks born in 1974, he is a man of his era, with a connection to the music of Prince, Michael Jackson, the Black Rock Coalition, plus R&B, soul, and Hip Hop. To create a document other than Kinfolk
would be to deny his eclectic listening past. Opening with the Pat Metheny
-inspired "Altitude," he weaves Michael Mayo's wordless vocals around Joel Ross
' vibraphone with Smith on both drums and keyboards. The ease in which this recording moves between jazz, soul, funk, rock, and R&B is seamless. Kokayi raps on "Square Wheel" over Michael Mayo's soothing vocals, that segues in the battling "Band Room Freestyle" head bobbing funk. Elsewhere, Smith is joined by violinist Regina Carter
on the pacific "Collision" and Living Colour's guitarist Vernon Reid
for the rock heavy "Rambo: The Vigilante," with Jaleel Shaw
's saxophone weaving notes over Smith's pulse. Vocalist Amma Whatt joins the band for a cover of Sting's "I Burn For You" and Brittany Howard ends the disc with the soul-drenched "Fly (For Mike)." Kinfolk
is beyond category and eschews being compartmentalized. Thank you for that.
Altitude ft. Joel Ross & Michael Mayo; 2. Square Wheel ft. Kokayi & Michael Mayo; Band Room
Freestyle ft. Kokayi; Street Lamp; Don't Let Me Get Away ft. Stokley; Collision ft. Regina
Carter; Meditation: Prelude; Rambo: The Vigilante ft. Vernon Reid; I Burn For You ft. Amma
Whatt; See The Birds ft. Joel Ross & Michael Mayo; Fly (For Mike) ft. Brittany Howard.