Many of last year’s LP releases had to be postponed due to too few vinyl manufacturers, but the new Nate Smith LP, his first for Edition Records, just came through in time for Christmas. Five years after “Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere” on Ropeadope, the drummer, composer, keyboardist follows up with a fascinating new album which opens a bit Pat Metheny-like with the wordless vocals of Michael Mayo on “Altitude”. Featuring the masterful work of Joel Ross on vibes, the tune is one of many little wonders on the record. I don’t really dig the two rap pieces with Kokayi, but when singer Stokley ends side one with the ultra soulful “Don’t Let Me Get Away”, things are back in balance again.
There are more special guests on the album, like violinist Regina Carter who gracefully opens side two with “Collision”. Or Jon Cowherd on piano, Rhodes, and Hammond B-3 organ who puts in some little snippets, stars, and flowerings here and there. Rock-induced “Rambo: The Vigilante” features a fierce guitar by Vernon Reid, and saxophonist Jaleel Shaw sends shivers on several tracks, like on the neo-soul track of singer Amma Whatt on Sting’s “I Burn For You”, another piece with a special kind of power.
My favorite is “See The Birds” with the majestic and sympathetic vocals of Michael Mayo again. This is the perfect blend of soul with hip hop beats and jazz overtones, courtesy of Joel Ross on vibes and some Herbie Hancock keys circa “Raindance” thrown in. Nate writes in the liner notes that the music on the album “even at its most serious, is still unafraid and unaware of anything other than the pursuit of joy”. Best example of the joy involved: the mesmerizing voice of Brittany Howard on the album closer “Fly (For Mike)”.
Nate is touring the album in the US in February and is expected to come over to Europe in May:
5/18 Budapest – Müpa 5/19 Berlin – Gretchen 5/20 Johanneshov – Slaktkyrkan 5/23 Amsterdam – Paradiso Noord 5/24 Paris – Trabendo 5/25 London – Jazz Café 5/26 Rotterdam – Bird 5/27 Barcelona – La Nau 5/28 Madrid – Sala Caracol