Bio Joel LaRue Smith CD Reviews - JAZZBOOKINGjazz- ??jazz with harmonic and ... Smith’s statement that draws upon the song’s rhythmic nature ... Joel LaRue Smith – CD Reviews

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  • JAZZBOOKING | Joel LaRue Smith CD Reviews _____________________________________________________

    ___________________________________________________________________________ Hans J. Batschauer artists | relations | Stuttgart | Germany | phone: +49-711-615 90 68 | fax: +49-711-63 30 18 18 | mobile: +49-172-71 27 446 | | | 1

    1. reviewed March 27, 2009 By: Edward Blanco Originally released in the fall of 2008, September's Child is the debut recording from The Joel Larue Smith Trio, a Latin Jazz combo presenting seven original compositions, the majority of which are Latin-shaded tunes. Also included are unique interpretations of four standards, one from Wayne Shorter (Fall), Mario Bauza's Mambo Inn, Pedro Flores' Obsesion and the shoulder-moving opener from Armando Peraza Barandanga. Pianist/composer and educator Joel Larue Smith anchors a standard piano trio with bassist Fernando Huergo and Renato Malavasi pounding the drums. Larue Smith is Director of Jazz Activities and Director of the Tufts Jazz Orchestra at Tufts University and says of his music My compositions are a mixture of Afro-Cuban dance rhythms and sensual jazz harmonies. Aside from the previously mentioned Latin colored pieces, Larue Smith leads this assertive trio through a musical landscape that feature more of the Latin sounds on such numbers as El Mensajero, Narrow Escape, 9 CMiramar,and the title track. Though obviously a Latin jazz album by any measure, there just happens to be four absolutely beautiful straight ahead jazz pieces that are not to be missed. Beginning with Larue Smith's Time Out For Love, a warm and inviting cushy love ballad that plays to the heart. The pianist also provides a superb new read to Wayne Shorter's Fall that does include a measure of the Latin jazz beat. Two very special pieces of music rounding out the repertoire are the lively and bouncy Common Ground and the sensuous romantic Que Preciosa. September's Child is a masterpiece of a recording offering a palette of Afro-Cuban rhythms with a touch of the classical and slice of straight jazz making for one compelling debut. Joel Larue Smith and his Latin combo deliver one enchanting session of Latin jazz with harmonic and accessible grooves that's pleasing to the core. Year: 2008 Label: Self Published Artist Web:

  • JAZZBOOKING | Joel LaRue Smith CD Reviews _____________________________________________________

    ___________________________________________________________________________ Hans J. Batschauer artists | relations | Stuttgart | Germany | phone: +49-711-615 90 68 | fax: +49-711-63 30 18 18 | mobile: +49-172-71 27 446 | | | 2

    2. The Latin Jazz Corner - Reviewed by Chip Boaz

    Septembers Child

    The Joel Larue Smith Trio The wealth of opportunities available to modern musicians have allowed artists from every background to express themselves in the public eye, but it has also created a very crowded marketplace; for the contemporary artist, the ability to stand out among a crowd has become an essential skill. For some musicians, their wild lifestyles drive them into the public spotlight, reintroducing them to the general audience for better or worse. With each new display of public humiliation or success, these artists find themselves back in the spotlight and as a result, their music becomes noticed. This approach effectively draws an audience, but it refocuses people away from the true meaning of the music - a strategy that doesnt work well for Latin Jazz musicians. Music forms the core of the Latin Jazz artists personality, and above all, it is the thing that must be noticed and appreciated. A Latin Jazz artist needs many things in their music to stand out among their peers - a studied and thorough knowledge of Caribbean and South American styles, a deep understanding of jazz harmony and improvisation, and a connection to history and tradition. Those are the basics, but theres a much more intriguing element that pushes the artist into a league of their own: a distinct artistic approach and well-conceived musical personality. Without this, the artist sounds like any other Latin Jazz musician; with this personality in tact, the artist stands as an original voice that can be recognized immediately. Pianist Joel Larue Smith leads a trio through a set of both originals and classic compositions on Septembers Child, presenting a strong voice and performance style that deserves avid attention.

    Combining Afro-Cuban rhythms With A Distinct Improvisational Approach Smith builds his trio sound upon several original compositions that use Afro-Cuban genres with an improvisational jazz approach. After a long introduction filled with unison piano and bass runs, Smith and bassist Fernando Huergo join forces to present a melody on El Mensajero that provides interesting twists on common themes. Smith continues this winding path on his improvisation with intriguing themes that step in and out of the chord structure and dance around rhythmic tension. A band break leads Smith into a driving montuno that serves as the basis for an intensive statement from drummer Renato Malavasi. Huergo doubles Smith on a standard montuno to introduce Miramar, before Smith moves into a tipico melody with a jazz edge. Smith continues playing upon the established tone, starting with fairly common lines that stretch into unique variations. The solo begins to reveals Smiths distinct personality as he pushes the improvisation outside the limits of the chord changes and plays around rhythmic fragments. Smith moves dramatic chords over a pedal tone on Septembers Child before he jumps into an up-tempo melody filled with a sense of urgency. A series of unison band runs send Smith racing into his improvisation, where he builds his ideas around short rhythmic

  • JAZZBOOKING | Joel LaRue Smith CD Reviews _____________________________________________________

    ___________________________________________________________________________ Hans J. Batschauer artists | relations | Stuttgart | Germany | phone: +49-711-615 90 68 | fax: +49-711-63 30 18 18 | mobile: +49-172-71 27 446 | | | 3

    lines, bluesy embellishments, and creative thematic development. After a return to the melody, Smith and Huergo set up a sparse vamp for Malavasi, who takes a busy solo full of color and texture. These songs create a distinct connection to the Afro-Cuban tradition, but Smith provides a spin at every turn with interesting arrangement ideas and a high personal performance voice.

    Integrating Ideas From Traditional Jazz Smith mixes traditional jazz ideas into his sound on several tracks, broadening his scope and raising his concept to another level. Huergo and Smith imply a gentle swing with a light vamp over an open texture on Time Out For Love before settling into an active ballad feel for the delicate melody. Smiths thoughtful melodic playing leads smoothly into Huergos insightful statement that weaves through the chord changes with grace and style. Smith pushes the groove slightly with long beautiful lines, complimented by a freely interpreted accompaniment from Huergo and Malavasi. A timba flavored minor montuno abruptly drops into an active melody on Narrow Escape, until the rhythm section bursts into an up-tempo swing feel on the contrasting bridge. Smith starts his improvisation with sparse rhythmic ideas that he builds into a fuller statement through repeated phrases and displaced ideas. As Smith reaches the climax of his solo, Huergo joins him in a wildly winding unison line before the band jumps back to the main melody. Smith engages in a reflective unaccompanied solo on Que Preciosa before transitioning into moving melody over a combination of bolero and ballad. Huergo displays a gift for melodic invention with long breathing phrases that pull the beauty from the rich chordal structure. Malavasi and Huergo provide a free, open, and colorful background behind Smiths improvisation as he careful develops his ideas into a lush and meaningful statement. Smith displays keen insight and a developed sense of artistry on these tracks, combining elements of both Afro-Cuban styles and traditional jazz into a personal sound.

    Arrangements Of Classic Compositions Smith connects himself to tradition with several arrangements of classic compositions, while setting himself apart with a distinct performance approach. Armando Perazas Barandanga opens with a dramatic unaccompanied piano solo from Smith before a driving montuno pushes the band into a fiery melody. Tight band breaks lead the group into Smiths statement that draws upon the songs rhythmic nature with tense syncopated ideas. Smiths solo explodes into a furious montuno while Malavasi constructs a short but strong idea. The trio establishes a vamp over a 6/8 rhythm before transitioning into the melody on Wayne Shorters Fall. After the main theme, Smith races into a frantic montuno that drives the group into an up-tempo son montuno groove for solos. Smiths improvisation matches the frenetic feel of this change, plowing through the changes with a bold musicality that simmers with tension. Smith and Huergo introduce Pedro Flores Obsesion with a traditional vamp over Malavasis cha cha cha groove, until the group moves into a quick bolero for a gentle reading of the melody. Huergo builds variations on the main theme, carefully twisting the phrases into an original idea

  • JAZZBOOKING | Joel LaRue Smith CD Reviews _____________________________________________________

    ___________________________________________________________________________ Hans J. Batschauer artists | relations | Stuttgart | Germany | phone: +49-711-615 90 68 | fax: +49-711-63 30 18 18 | mobile: +49-172-71 27 446 |