“The title of the disc is appropriate: (SWINGIN’ IS BELIEVIN’) it really swings through the acceleration instilled by drummer Smith and his band. The opening piece, with alto saxophonist Beals, tenor player Burton, and trombonist Gardner in the front line, states the case in fast-paced terms established by the rules of Hard Bop. Added thrust comes from the percussion of Thoms. Thereafter, Smith breaks down the band into smaller units and alters the personnel while keeping constant the trio of pianist Germanson and bassist Hawkins. Hart on alto sax joins the trio on four selections to sustain the momentum, Gross on soprano drops in for a mood changing ballad, Beals returns for another quartet romp in the “Moanin” vernacular, and two other selections feature an expanded group with heavy emphasis on the drums.
Smith’s winning formula stems from his ability to keep the music cooking with his assertive drumming and by allowing each of the musicians to do a bit of stretching, such as when Hart wails on Shorter’s “This Is For Albert.” The leader gets a big sound out of each configuration of musicians, but the selections featuring multiple reeds and brass display the biggest bang. Even the devotional “Lord I Give Myself To You” simmers. A bonus with this cd comes from being able to see the trio at work on a video track to witness Smith in action. Germanson’s heavy comping pushes the music while Smith drives the film’s message home.”
MUSIC REVIEW| NEAL SMITH GROUP Gently, Gently, a Drummer Leads His Pack By BEN RATLIFF Published: August 25, 2009 Why are so many good jazz gigs led by drummers these days? Possibly it’s just labor logic: the star system has broken down, the circuit has shrunk and there are fewer high-profile working bands led by great front-line soloists — saxophonists, trumpeters, guitarists. The burden to be charismatic has drained away from jazz a bit, too, for better or worse. When a drummer leads a band, you no longer expect Buddy Rich or Max Roach buttonholing you with virtuosity or brilliant improvising and making a special case for why a rhythm-section musician should be setting the ordinance. You expect a lot of sublimation to the greater good. Neal Smith, a New York drummer in his mid-30s who has played in Cyrus Chestnut’s band for the last 10 years, led a new group at Smalls on Monday, recording four sets over two nights for a live album. At the core of the band is the trio of Mr. Smith on drums, Dezron Douglas on bass and Mulgrew Miller, a wise elder, on piano. And then there were satellite elements, rotating in and out of the sets: the saxophonist Steve Wilson, the guitarist Mark Whitfield and the saxophonist Eric Alexander. Mr. Smith, calling the tunes, played no-nonsense post-bop rhythm, the hard center of jazz since the late 1950s. And he barely called attention to himself.
Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hope you are well… 2010 is a new year for everyone. I am starting off the new year by celebrating and introducing my new album “Neal Smith Quintet …Live At Smalls (NYC).” This album features some of my good friends and music that music that means a lot to me. You may purchase this album through my website, cdbaby, amazon and various online sites. Enclosed is a review of this recording. Really hope you enjoy it. You may also hear a sample of the music if you go to the discography page on my website.
Neal Smith Quintet Live was recorded on August 23 and 24th, 2009. This recording features:
Steve Wilson; Soprano & Alto Sax
Eric Alexander; Tenor Sax
Mulgrew Miller; Piano
Mark Whitfield; Guitar
Dezron Douglass; Bass