Nate Smith + KINFOLK [Report Abuse]

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Event Date Event Name
12/19/2019 - 12/22/19 Nate Smith + KINFOLK
Start Time: 7:30 pm
End Time: 11:30 pm
Event Description

Since moving from Chesapeake, Virginia to New York City in 2001, Nate Smith has helped reinvigorate the international jazz scene with his visceral style of drumming by playing with such esteemed leading lights as bassist Dave Holland, saxophonists Chris Potter and Ravi Coltrane, and singers Patricia Barber, Somi, and José James. The New York Times described Smith as “a firecracker of a drummer.”


Smith’s rising career reaches a new benchmark with the release of his bandleader debut, KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere, on which he fuses his original modern jazz compositions with R&B, pop, and hip-hop. The disc shows Smith leading a scintillating core ensemble, consisting of pianist and keyboardist Kris Bowers, guitarist Jeremy Most, alto and soprano saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, electric bassist Fima Ephron, and singer and lyricist Amma Whatt, and Michael Mayo on backing vocals. The lineup expands on several cuts with the inclusion of Potter and Holland along with other illustrious guests – guitarists Lionel Loueke and Adam Rogers, and singer Gretchen Parlato.


As the title KINFOLK suggests, the music bristles with a magnetism that can be only achieved by assembling the right musicians, building upon and blending their individual voices and developing a bracing group rapport. Indeed, Smith refers to the aforementioned musicians as “kindred spirits,” while embracing some philosophies gleaned from his mentor, Holland. “Dave once told me, ‘I really believe that musicians find each other,’” Smith recalls. “He feels that all the collaborations he’s done and all the sidemen that he’s hired came into his life on purpose, even though he might not have been looking for something specific. He discovers people along the way.


“KINFOLK is about the musical family that I’ve put together,” Smith continues. “All core members of the band have very unique and specific points of view.” He reinforces the idea of family by composing tunes that touch upon his childhood. Such is the case with the jovial “Morning and Allison,” whose title partly invokes Allison Drive, the street on which Smith grew up. The song stars Ms. Whatt serenading idyllic recollections of a child enjoying a bright, fun-filled Sunday morning.


Smith recorded his parents – Lettie and Theodore Smith – talking about their respective parents on the mesmerizing interludes “Mom” and “Dad.” On the former, Smith’s mother tells how her father migrated from Virginia to Detroit and was drafted into U.S. Army then later returned to Virginia, where he bought the family a house. The latter provides a vehicle for his father to recall how his father tirelessly worked at Navy shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia during the Jim Crow era without getting proper financial compensation or promotion until decades later. “I think of these stories as snapshots that ultimately gave shape to the Black American experience into which I was born, which ultimately informs this music” Smith explains, before stressing the importance of having his parents’ voices on the album.


The significance of having Smith’s father on the disc was brought home even more after his passing in March 2015. “He never got a chance to hear the music or the band,” Smith says.


Because Smith didn’t come strictly from the formal matriculation of music studies as so many of his jazz contemporaries did, he lovingly describes his approach to drumming as “unrefined,” which in turns helps him distinguish his voice. He did, however, earned his bachelor’s degree in 1997 in media arts and design from James Madison University. While he was still in college, the legendary singer Betty Carter recruited him for her world-acclaimed Jazz Ahead program. Smith says that the visual arts discipline he studied in college definitely seeps into his compositions. “I love great movies and images. I’ve always had a deep interest in composing for film,” Smith says. “For this project, there is something very cinematic about the way that I conceived this record. That’s why it was so important for me to cast the right characters in terms of musicians. They bring to life the themes of family, nostalgia and identity that define this music.” Ultimately, Smith likens the songs on KINFOLK to film vignettes sequenced together to tell a greater story about the unfolding journey of a working artist. This music represents snapshots from that voyage – these songs are the postcards from everywhere along the winding road.


Website: http://my.jazzstl.org/117
Additional Event Information
Location: Ferring Jazz Bistro 3536 Washington Avenue St. Louis, MO 63103
Submitted by:  Jon Huff