- Artist: Pete Smyser
- Format: CD
- Release Date:1/6/2009
REVIEWS & TESTIMONIALS... '... he sure can play. 'Jazz On the Classic' gives you Pete Smyser as a one-man band. Like Joe Pass, Pete can produce a completely rendered piece-with melody, harmony and rhythm coming from a single instrument. Stylistically, however, Pete goes his own way. How? First off, he's playing a nylon acoustic, which makes for a particular sound; second his improvisations are his own, quite tasteful and articulate, masterful, idiomatic, and imaginative. Joe Pass was all that too, but Smyser gets a different sound and feel. The recording does not produce all the expected shopworn goodies. Smyser picks some of the less played classics, especially when it comes to the guitar. Take for example Alec Wilder's "It's So Peaceful in the Country." Now that's a great tune and he does a terrific job bringing out the beauties of the melody and harmony. Then there's another unexpected treasure: Duke's "Black & Tan Fantasy." Smyser gives it a striding glide, a very adept translation to the stringed world and a bluesy solo too that is quite nice. Miles Davis' first "Milestones" is another one you don't expect to hear in this medium. It is wonderful to hear it like this, though. It makes you remember just how great a tune it is. And the solo Smyser does have some wonderful lines and hip comping at the same time. I could go on, and mention "Red Door," a Mulligan-Sims gem that lays just right on Smyser's guitar. Well I just did. That's enough to give you the idea. This is a fine recording and a real tribute to Smyser's abilities. Any fan of the acoustic will get great pleasure from it. - Grego Applegate Edwards (Cadence Magazine) "In his solo work, the guitarist seems even more patient than he was in the past, more willing in his 20th year as a professional to let the music breathe. The jazz material on the recording shows Smyser's influences, chiefly the lush, evocative chording of Wes Montgomery and the agility of the reigning master-supremo, axe-man, Jim Hall. Don't be distracted by the fact that it is self-released. It is top drawer stuff that deserve some serious listening." -Tim Blangger/ The Morning Call 'I'd be curious to know what kind of response you get from this solo CD. I think it should appeal to a wide audience. It is certainly 'jazz', but doesn't have long solos that seem to drive non-jazz listeners away. It is relaxing (but not Musak or New Age) so it would be good to play while doing desk work (sorry - background!!). The effortless and 'making it sound easy' feel doesn't make it a technical listen but arrangements are very interesting. The musicians will certainly appreciate the difficulty and accomplishment to make it sound effortless. Making difficult things sound easy is the highest level. I hope people appreciate it.' - Bill "...beautifully played by Smyser. 'A Foggy Day' is especially tasty." -Robert Page (owner of The Classical Guitar Store, Phila., PA) "Pete, I just love this classical guitar jazz collection. Wow!!!! The sound is so soulful and intimate because of the nylon strings." -Roger "I LOVE IT! I like it when you work alone best. You are able to completely express yourself and it comes off GREAT!! I am loving it!!" - Jan "I really have enjoyed (your CDs). Your taste, conciseness, and respect for the tradition are rare commodities these days. Congrats on a great product, keep swingin!" - Tom HOW THE RECORDING CAME ABOUT... In 2007, John Arnold (professor of classical guitar studies at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) invited me to perform at the annual Bethlehem Guitar Festival which is rooted in classical guitar traditions. There was, however, an interesting twist to the theme of the festival that particular year - "Jazz on the Classic". Performers were encouraged to incorporate jazz elements into a program that would be performed on a classical (nylon stringed) guitar. With this theme in mind, I set out to put together a solo guitar program that would bridge the two distinctly different musical approaches- classical and jazz. Classical guitar performance usually involves a predetermined and clearly defined arrangement. This involves pre-thinking every detail including all note choices for the arrangement, exact fingering to be used for both the left and right hands, as well as where to play each given note. Jazz enthusiasts champion the ability to play musical ideas spontaneously with little or no preplanning. A jazz performer would typically state the melody once through, then improvise over the chord structure of the piece and, finally, close with a re-statement of the melody. The approach that I settled upon represented a departure from that of any other jazz performance that I had ever performed. The "jazz" elements of this program are represented by; 1. The inclusion of the improvisational middle section of the tunes. 2. The choice of musical selections. Some of the selections are well known American Songbook standards while others were originally composed as instrumental jazz pieces. One song, "Time Will Tell", is an original composition. The "classical" side of the program is represented in three areas. 1. The use of composed arrangements for the melody statements. 2. The music is performed on a nylon string classical guitar (as opposed to the steel string guitar that is more typically used for jazz performances). 3. Classical finger style techniques were utilized exclusively (as opposed to plectrum or pick techniques).
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