Sean O'Bryan Smith: Tapestry




Sean O'Bryan Smith (bass, guitar, keyboards)


Tapestry (Groove Therapy Records)

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Sean O'Bryan Smith (bass, guitar, keyboards),

Crawford Perkins (sax), Ryan Bottoms, Rich Eckhardt (guitars), Shannon Wickline (organ, synthesizer), Joe Scheibelhoffer (drums, percussion)


Composed by Sean O’Bryan Smith


Recorded: Nashville, TN, 2007


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

Some music comes perilously close to crossing the Smooth Jazz line (pardon me while I gag). My first quick impressions of this CD were leading me toward that awful boundary. This reviewer would rather cut off his foot than step into that listening territory. But a few seconds of patience proved quite rewarding. This is not Smooth Jazz (pardon me while I gag) in any way, shape or form. It is full of risk and virtuosity. Smith is a top-notch composer and an even better bassist.

"Tapestry" is an ambitious amalgam of African nature sounds, Arabian scales and fusion rave-ups. Outside the Arabic nature of the main theme, the music sounds very much like what Béla Fleck and the Flecktones might without Béla Fleck. Smith's bass talents are instantly evidenced. He does sound like the Flecktones' Victor Wooten at times. The textured keyboards throughout are also very impressive. Guitarist Rich Eckhardt submits a fusion solo in keeping with the genre's promise.

Smith's composing and playing also remind me of bassist Mark Egan and his work with the under-praised fusion band Elements – though Smith throws in many more ethnic elements. "Tapestry," both title tune and album, contains strong melodies and is expertly performed. When you open the jar the top surface may be smooth. But as soon as you take a spoonful, you realize it is chunky style.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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