Listening to Sean O'Bryan Smith is a little like listening to Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Wayman Tisdaleall at the same time. Maybe that's because Smith uses a variety of bass instruments, and weaves them together like a Tapestry
Smith is a much sought-after musician who has played a variety of genres. Among those who have called on his talents are Anna Wilson, Steve Azar and Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2007, he was musical director of the Hammer and Honques house band for the Fox television program Nashville
. He's also led his own jazz bands, opening up for widely known talents including Kermit Ruffins, Fattburger and the late Michael Brecker.
, Smith is supported by a huge cast in ever-changing small ensembles. He plays several instruments, including four and six-string fretted basses, a five-string fretless, and a four-string tenor bass.
"Sweet" begins on a solemn note, played by keyboardist Ken Rarick. After the melancholy monologue, the bass kicks in and energizes the song. Smith uses two fretted basses and also plays rhythm guitar. Alto saxophonist Mitch Reilly contributes, setting up a guitar solo by Steve McRuiz. At times, the song sounds like a Clarke-Duke Project piece, circa 1980.
The cleverly titled "Sprung Chicken" is more of an easygoing, bluesy piece. Tim Gonzalez adds the harmonica. With one bass carrying the rhythm, Smith uses the other as a lead instrument. McRuiz adds to the fun with an engaging electric guitar solo.
"El Corazon" is one of those songs that could be the soundtrack to an action film sequence. Rich Eckhardt joins with several guitars, including nylon string guitar. Saxophonists Karl Wingruber and Tommy Ogle, along with trombonist Scott Kinney, give this piece a dramatic flair.
Smith wrote all nine tracks for Tapestry
and, despite the constant rotation of personnel, the album doesn't lack consistency. Though the guitars and other instruments lead here and there, it's Smith's basses that carry the weight. And that's what gives the whole album the feel of something done by Clarke, Miller or Tisdale.