Drummer/composer Greg Smith GS has been active on the international jazz, classical, and beat-music scene since the mid 1990s. His chameleon-esque ability has led him to work with artists as diverse as David Binney, Chris Speed, Reggie Washington, Sandra St-Victor & Family Stand, and Kori Withers. Smith has additionally developed an affinity with experimental electronics, creating works for contemporary dance-theater companies around the world.
Now, you can hear this synthesis of beats, pop-ish melodies, electronics and highly-charged improvisations come together in his debut album, CLUSTER 001. The album features the fantastic lineup of David Binney, Logan Kane, Vanja Kevresan, and Alexander Maksymiw. A thoroughly engaging and fun recording, with slightly dystopian echoes. Recommended for the curious listener seeking an alternative, unique voice in the modern jazz landscape.
“I am captivated by sounds that evoke imagery. It’s what first led me on a path of making music for contemporary dance and theater, which in turn influenced and guided me to being a more expressive and emotional composer in the field of improvised music. If I have a unique talent, it’s in my ability to mix seemingly incongruous styles and forms into a captivating and compelling narrative. My new album is the platform, and the amazing musicians who have joined me on this journey make beautiful contributions to the story. This is modern jazz painted with wide brush strokes, creating a rich tapestry of sounds and colors,” states Smith.
Born and raised in Montreal, Greg Smith joined forces in the mid-90s with some of Canada’s best musicians to form the award-winning jazz projects, Life On Mars, and the Shuffle Demons. Much of that success was owed to his musicianship and fresh-sounding compositions. He lived in NYC in the 90’s where he embraced and played with the new alternative underground jazz scene, and made connections to some of his favorite musicians. There was, among others, a four-album stint with the LAMA Trio (Cleanfeed Records) featuring clarinet/saxophonists Chris Speed and Joachim Badenhorst, and The Erik Ritfeld Unit with bassist Reggie Washington and current bassist Zach Lober.
A musician who had significant impact on him at that time was saxophonist/composer David Binney, the featured artist on Smith’s first jazz album, Life on Mars (1994). “I was impressed by how much David cared about not only his own contribution, but our performances as well. We hired him to play, but he really was a sort of producer-by-default. He pushed us to create our own unique sound,” says Smith.
Fast forward to 2019. Greg Smith is ready to make his debut solo album. He searches deep within himself to come up with an honest, adventurous sound. He creates samples and soundscapes, establishing a dark, somewhat dystopian mood. The self-contained forms have pop-tinged melodies that function as tracks on their own. In Berlin, he finds two eclectic musicians in guitarist Vanja Kevresan, and guitarist/synth-guitarist Alexander Maksymiw, both fierce and empathetic improvisers. They give the music a unique flavor and vibe. And Smith turns again to David Binney, for his phenomenal sax playing and production abilities.
Binney suggests the bassist from his own current band, Logan Kane. The band is complete. “Logan is truly a beast of a bassist”, says Smith, “with a very strong sound and creative edge. David guided the recording session and urged us to make unconventional choices. The performances are strong. In post-production he mixed and mastered the album, bringing out a dreamy quality with enhanced effects. So the recording has spirited performances and futuristic, abstract sonics. A really dynamic and colorful mix.”
1. My Pet Robot 06:47
2. N.L.X. 05:53
3. Leolo 05:36
4. Ice 911 07:45
5. A Stable Genius 04:17
6. The Closing 04:16
7. Angels & Insects 03:05
Greg Smith - drums/laptop/keyboards
David Binney - alto sax/fx
Vanja Kevresan - guitar
Alex Maksymiw - guitar, synth guitar
Logan Kane - bass
Mixed and mastered by David Binney
Artwork by Nina Petkovic