many years Roger
Smith is a constant guarantor for quality in the smooth jazz scene. He has played for diverse recording artists that
includes rock star Jeff Beck, R&B vocalist Gladys Knight and country
legend Willie Nelson, and has served as music director of Coke Esconvido and Club Nouveau. Today's he maintains with his significant
Hammond B3-sound the group Tower of Power.
His heritage is
jazz and his home contemporary jazz. "Years ago, an old blues organist
told me that I should learn to play any style of music to round out my
own style," Roger says. "It's been a challenge for me to go from rock
to country to blues to jazz, but it has really honed my particular
quirky style." As he concentrated that style on jazz, he worked with
some of the giants in smooth jazz, including Peter White, Rick Braun,
Phil Perry, and Gerald Albright among many others. He started
his solo career with the album My Colors (1996), followed by
Both Sides (1999), Consider This (2000), Just Enough
(2004) and now Sittin' In (2008). Worth mentioning is his side
project Rosco's Place (2004), Roger's Hammond B-3 based, live
sound teamed by Dave Garibaldi (drums) and Ray Obiedo (guitar)
with help from Mike Kirkhouse (bass), Steve Self (drums), Mick
Valentine (guitar) and Mike McKinnon (bass). A comprehensive review of
this album is linked below.
In the tradition
of many contemporary jazz albums Sittin' In starts with the
title song. Roger let his fingers jump over ebony and ivory. Darius
Babazadeh (sax) and Roger on the Hammond B3 adds brilliant accents to
the main melody.
Roger pulls full
throttle on Just Friends. This is pure Hammond B3-fun!
Multi-awarded soul singer Taalib Johnson a.k.a Musiq Soulchild or
Musiq wrote this song for his debut album Aijuswanaseing in
2000. Monet and Larry Braggs perform the vocals on Roger's lively
written by Dave Repace, presents intelligent synth chords on a heavy
urban beat. The romantic ballade Isn't It Love features singer
La Jon Walker and Carol J. Toca, two blessed and gifted talents.
The Salsa piece
Fiesta is an outburst of rhythm and joy, a must for dancers. Mic
Gilette on trombone and trumpet and Adolpho Acosta on trumpet are
building an excellent horns section, while Carol J. Toca fascinates
again with his mesmerizing voice. After my humble opinion the best
song on this album.
Music Is Love
is featuring singer Regina Espinoza and Indra. Regina regularly
performs with a number of San Francisco Bay Area bands and vocal
groups. The arrangement of the chorus has a special originality and
Roger's piano performance is a bit of all right.
John P. Kee wrote Jesus Brought Me Out. La Jon Walker, Aladrian
Elmore, Priscilla Harris and Felitha Dheaton prize the Lord with such
emotion, fervor and soul to impress the sharpest of critics.
The sultry ballade
Sweet Lady features vocalists Derek "DOA" Allen and Connie Law
supported by the smooth sound of Norbert Stachel's alto sax. The
original version was released on Tyrese's debut album in 1998.
is a melodious turn around a theme, written by Roger and guitarist Ray
Raymond. Ray has also cooperated with Roger on his previous albums. He
is also member of the Joe Rosco band.
30 years ago I
bought the CD Heart Break of the group New Edition. Can You
Stand The Rain was one of the hits on this album written by
dream-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Tom Scott, Boyz II Men and
Alexander O'Neil are further interprets with covers of this song.
Roger Smith's first take was released on his album My Colors
(1996) followed by the compilation Flavors of Jazz (1997).
Roger is addicted to this song, quite comprehensible.
The song Bad
Sneakers has also a history. The song was originally released on
Stealy Dan's highly acclaimed album Katy Lied (1975). Roger's
rendition is a slower version in today's smooth jazz style featuring
Eddie M. on alto sax. Eddie is known by his performances with Prince,
Sheila E., Paula Abdul and Stevie Nicks.
Thinkin' 'Bout You is featuring singer and guitarist Bobby
Gonzales. He performed with Wayman Tisdale, Sheila E., Paula Abdul and
Eddie M. A relaxed tune with an urban beat.
Roger Smith's new
album Sittin' In is a something of everything. The project is a
reflection of Roger's today's relations and creative circle. A worthy
addition for all collectors of smooth jazz.