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Anthony Smith Quintet CD Release At Cornelia St. Cafe: "Play It Forward"

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Anthony's incredible abilities as a pianist give him a unique approach to the vibraphone, allowing him to make melodic and harmonic choices that are refreshing. --Behn Gillece, vibraphonist/composer, clinician, Positone recording artist
Established Vibraphonist/Composer Anthony Smith Starts Fresh in New York City, Releases New Double-Recording, Play It Forward, Volume One and Two

Release Concert at Cornelia St. Café, October 4th, 2015, 9pm


Recording Features Rising Stars of NYC Jazz Scene: Syberen van Munster (guitar), Petros Klampanis (bass), Kenny Pexton (saxophone), Mark Ferber (drums)

A couple years ago, vibraphonist/pianist/composer Anthony Smith was living in San Diego, California, working in a wide variety of musical genres, teaching at a local university, and raising a young family. Then, life threw Smith a serious curveball. A rare opportunity arose to abruptly relocate to New York City—and three months later, he, his wife and two sons found themselves living in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, enduring one of the worst East Coast winters in decades. “It all happened very fast,” Smith notes. “It wasn’t on our radar to move to New York, or anywhere else, really, but the opportunity materialized out of nowhere, and we decided to jump on it. I had always imagined what it would be like to live and play music here… now I have my chance.”

Smith’s new double recording, “Play It Forward,” is a reflection of his first two years in New York… the challenges, discoveries, triumphs and failures. The two-CD collection of Smith’s original compositions explores a rich variety of moods and tempos, from burning swing to quirky odd meters, straight-eighth grooves and haunting, Shorter-esque ballads. The project showcases the masterful interpretive and improvisational abilities of Smith’s collaborators: Syberen Van Munster on guitar, Kenny Pexton on saxophone, Petros Klampanis on bass, and Mark Ferber on drums. The quintet will celebrate the release of this exciting new music on Sunday, October 4th at Cornelia St. Cafe in Greenwich Village (NYC). 9pm. Despite having a varied, impressively wide-ranging resumé in the arts, Smith’s roots have always been in jazz. He studied jazz piano as a teenager growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and also fell in love with the vibraphone at that time, through watching the great vibes legend Bobby Hutcherson perform at local venues. “For many years the piano was my main instrument, in terms of working professionally, but the vibraphone has always been very close to my heart. In recent years, I’ve made a serious study of it.”

Upon landing in New York, Smith made the decision to focus almost exclusively on vibes. He launched a website, nycjazzvibes.com, to serve as a community hub for the New York jazz vibraphone community, and began collaborating with fellow vibes player Tony Miceli, through Miceli’s popular vibesworkshop.com website. The two have also teamed up for instructional workshops on both coasts. “There are a number of world-class vibes players in and around New York,” Smith says. “I’ve taken it upon myself to try and develop relationships with many of them.”

Smith, a seasoned bandleader who has toured extensively in the past with his own groups, and also as a sideman with notable artists such as (current Rolling Stones saxophonist) Karl Denson, also got busy putting together a new group in New York: The Anthony Smith Quintet. After hosting ongoing jam sessions at his home studio in Brooklyn, Smith assembled the lineup featured on Play It Forward, Volume One and Two, and crafted a program consisting of over a dozen new pieces of music. “Most of the songs were inspired by some aspect of living in New York, and the emotions attached to particular experiences I’ve thus far had here. Tracks like ‘Park Slope Sasquatch,’ ‘Welcome to Brooklyn,’ ‘Spring Isn’t Here’ and ‘Logistics’ are intended to convey certain feelings and sentiments, mostly positive, but not always.”

Smith is interested in using the vibraphone as a harmonic instrument in jazz, rather than in its more traditional role, as a linear, melodic voice. On both volumes of Play It Forward, Smith abandons the piano entirely and plays only vibraphone, using his four-mallet chordal style to comp for the other soloists. “I’m very interested in applying pianistic ideas and approaches to the vibraphone,” he says. “Also, I really like the sonic blend of guitar and vibraphone. I think it tends to work better than piano and vibraphone.”

In addition to playing music, Smith is also an accomplished writer, currently putting finishing touches on a book comprised of in-depth conversations with the world’s great, living jazz vibraphonists. “I’m inspired by all the great vibes players, and I look to them for ongoing musical inspiration,” he says. Indeed, one hears a history of jazz vibraphone upon a complete listening of Play It Forward... echoes of Gary Burton, Bobby Hutcherson, Mike Mainieri, and others. “Those guys are my heroes, and hopefully they’re pushing me to further establish my own, unique voice on the instrument.”

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