By Chris Tart | Published February 2017
In recent years, we’ve watched as jazz has been applied to mainstream genres with promising results. Albums by Robert Glasper Experiment and Kendrick Lamar have woven various styles of pop with jazz sensibilities, breathing new life into the way modern culture perceives jazz. The foundation of the urban pop/jazz hybrid has created room for lots of artists, and here’s another one for you: Nate Smith.
On his bandleader debut, Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere, drummer Smith does his best to translate a lifetime of experience into an hour-long album. Along the way, he gets help from some renowned jazz musicians, like bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Chris Potter, as well as a rotating cast of solid vocalists.
“Disenchantment: The Weight” and “Morning And Allison” feature Brooklyn- based singer Amma Whatt, who brings some of her Afropop/soul-jazz style to the uplifting numbers. Vocalist Gretchen Parlato offers her dramatic croon to “Pages,” which also features a pleasant section of short solos from Smith’s roster of musicians: Kris Bowers on piano, Fima Ephron on electric bass, Jeremy Most on guitars and Jaleel Shaw on saxophones.
Despite the melancholy finale, “Home Free,” the album is generally upbeat, with an emphasis on heady hip-hop beats and soul- jazz melodies. If you’re looking to satisfy your groove craving, look no further.
Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere: Intro: Wish You Were Here; Skip Step; Bounce Parts I + II; Mom: Postcards From De- troitFloydSalem; Retold; Disenchantment: The Weight; Spinning Down; Pages; From Here Interlude; Morning And Allison; Spiracles; Small Moves Interlude; Dad: Postcards From Isaac Street; Home Free. (57:00)
Personnel: Nate Smith, drums, percussion, Fender Rhodes, synths; Kris Bowers, piano, Fender Rhodes; Fima Ephron, bass; Jeremy Most, Lionel Loueke, Adam Rogers guitars; Jaleel Shaw, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Dave Holland, acoustic bass, (2, 8); Chris Potter, tenor saxophone, (3, 4); Gretchen Parlato, Michael Mayo, Amma Whatt, vocals.