Sean O'Bryan Smith / Blog

Philosophy part 2 (Continued)

Granted, I am all about atmospheric music and I love composing parts to play over but I don't call those jazz and don't release them. Those are called work tapes. My rant is that we as jazz musicians are losing what made the genre regardless of what style what it is. We have lost human interaction and collaboration. Artists and composers are not working together as they should. Greed has consumed some as well as laziness. It has become more about the bottom line of what they are making per track than music. Obviously we all have to eat and I will be the first to charge double master scale to a record label for a major artist session. But it troubles me seeing this in jazz even though most jazz musicians probably need the money more than anyone since the pay scale just isn't the same as other musical forms. That's a whole other conversation. So what is the point of all of this? For me it is more of a challenge than a point. It is my wish to start collaborating with other artists and musicians more than just composing and tracking at home. This can be done many ways. For instance, I intentionally book different musicians on various live dates for my solo shows. This breathes new life into the music as well as it takes the audience on a new journey. Wasn't that part of what made jazz great to begin with? Another thing that can be done is to get artists composing with one another. The ultimate advantage of technology is that it is easy to meet players from around the world and share compositions, tracks, whatever. How cool is to do a record with an artist out of Sri Lanka and another artist out or Ireland and not have to travel. Now we know nothing will replace the actual interaction of being in the same room but this is still a positive way to take a more creative step in the right direction versus just playing to some lame stock loop and then releasing it to the world as a hit single. I am just throwing some food for thought out there to other musicians. Do whatever you can to help the genre begin to flourish and evolve again. Jazz is a true art form and greatly appreciated. For me in 2011 I am going to be traveling all over the country to do various side project CDs to do my part as well as compose with artists from around the globe. I would encourage you to do the same or even shoot me a line and we can do it together. In closing, Frank Zappa said it best. "Jazz isn't dead. It just smells funny." Blessed Grooves, S

A Bald Guy's Philosophy on the J word

Jazz. To some people not supposedly "hip" or in the know it is just another word. Part of it is they don't understand and even worse these days it could partially be because an overall laxness to the genre as a whole due to the ways the industry have involved. With the inventions of some of the DIY studios and ease of recording techniques a lot of mediocrity has surfaced partially endangering the genre. To top that the radio stations are falling and traditional jazz is no longer the pop music of the era. Do we worry? absolutely not. We take charge. One thing that has made my career exciting is that fact that I am a highly successful unknown in most arenas. I have worked with as many legends in various music styles as some of the legends themselves but because of my chosen paths I remain on a level of obscurity. This is partially by design as I tend to stick to my guns and only approach projects that are truly musical. Why am I saying this you ask? Hopefully, just to allow a hint of credibility to my following observations to those that may wonder why my opinion matters. To some it still won't. The state of jazz today has a hint of urgency to it. The traditional players are so steeped in tradition that they are tending to die off as the demand dies with them. This is saddening to a great degree because of the loss of truly amazing music but on the other hand it is partially the artist's fault on why they didn't evolve. Jazz as a whole was created by interaction. It was born from taking chances, evolving, and musical expression. Why is that gone? On one hand it is the fact that some jazz formats (especially my own) made it acceptable to just throw on a drum loop and a synth pad and blow changes over it if there are any changes. How lame is that?

State of the Jazz Address

So I haven't had a regular blog in awhile so this should be quite fun. I'll eventually starting blabbing on who knows what whether musical, philosophical, or just plain fun but I wanted to this chance to catch people up on what all is going on and if this is you first time checking me out you'll get your tidbits as well. Either way I am glad you are all here. First things first. I know a lot of you have been asking about the status of my second solo CD entitled Reflection. Well, the good news is that the CD is actually finished and being mastered. The bad news is that we are delaying release for now. A number of major musical entities have shown interest in the project so we are chatting with a few folks to see if we want to release with a major distributor/label or if we want to continue doing everything ourselves. Rest assured it will be worth the wait. The CD features performances by a number of top musicians including Gerald Albright, Randy Brecker, Chuck Loeb, and Frank Catalano. I'll be letting you know more details as they come up for sure. Next I wanted to thank everyone who came out and saw my shows for my US Tour this year. The shows were a blast and I made a number of new fans and friends which makes me smile to no end. Thank you all again and we are already looking at 2011. On a side note, I am in the planning stages of a number of other records with various jazz artists. I personally miss the element of collaboration in today's music especially in contemporary jazz. Those of you who have seen us live know that I take different presonnel with me on various gigs. This keeps everything fresh and makes it a new musical experience for the listeners. I am doing this in the studio as well. I'll be updating soon on who I am collaborating with but I am genuinely excited about the opportunities to create some amazing music. In addition to my solo career I am overjoyed to be a part of a great new release from my dear friend Anna Wilson. I have been Anna's bassist for nearly a decade and her new CD Countrypolitan Duets that is due out in Feb of 2011 is an amazing piece of work. It is classic country songs arranged for jazz and features legendary duets with Larry Carlton, Rick Braun, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, and many more. I am going to be performing with Carlton and Anna for an upcoming show at The Grand Ole Opry on November 16th. That is the quickie catch up and heads up of things to come. I am blessed right now and excited to be making quality music with lots more to come. Take care,S