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Just Groovin’ by ronny smith

Guitarist Ronny Smith developed his trademark salve for making evenly flame broiled smooth jazz swath in gorgeous harmonic forms and lounging grooves on his 2007 record, Simply Stated. Keeping true to his trademark sound, Smith launches his follow up disc, Just Groovin’ this year with a collection of tunes resonating in clear blue skies and uplifting moods that soak the listener’s aural senses in sheer serenity. He is an active bandleader and mediator, directing the movements of the tracks with his gentle coaxing as he softens the turns and connects dangling pieces to create full-bodied compositions. His music is archetypal of smooth jazz material and sticks to its parameters showing similarities to saxophonist Tim Cunningham’s caressive stroking and keyboardist Gail Jhonson’s buoyant wavelets. It is an album that is sure make you happy.

Smith’s tracks almost seem like they give listeners a beach-front view of calmly rolling azure-hued riffs clinging loosely to the shoreline while caressed by the leisurely movements of the wind. Keyboardists Alan Alexander and Jeff Knoettner, and horn players Scott Martin, Stan Martin and Andy Martin provide the sinuous riffs while Smith’s leisurely strolls veer them in the listener‘s direction. His soft guitar raptures are absorbed into the melodic terrain of "Here We Go Again" with an eloquence that can bewitch a romantic poet, and the silky feel of his guitar flicks fluttering across "95 Drive" gives the track a heavenly gloss. The synth treatments applied on Smith’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s song "Superstition" blanket the tune in glittering psychedelics as his guitar plants jutting sprigs along the funky grooves and dancing horns. The smooth jazz fronds of "Smooth" are branded in gospel-tinged ringlets from the Hammond B3 organ and divots made by the chugging bass bumps. The feathery guitar riffs of "I’m Beside You" are lubed by flouncy bass beats, and the springy tempo of "Groove 106" hoists a sunny-pop vibe. Smith tells in a press release that the title of the track, "Groove 106" comes from the metronome setting on the tune at 106 beats per second, which he shows makes the music beam with a sunny glow. Other tunes have a sexy jazz vibe like the title track which flitters erotic sensations emanating from the horns, and an island sway like in "Forever Friends" which has a sentimental feel in its voicing. The final two tracks have a Latin flavor delivering soft billowy knolls rolling across "Ticket To Rio" and bubbly ruffles spilling vivaciously along "Blue Bossa."

It’s impossible not to feel happy after listening to Just Groovin’. Smith is a master at creating atmospheres that make people eager to bury themselves in, and happy to stay submerged in for long lengths of time. Smith straddles the line of escapist music and compositions that touch human sentiment. He cites Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, George Benson, and Roy Clark as his musical influences, and though his image of smooth jazz is arced by their impact on him, he also shows signs of moving past them, having tapped into his own ideas and developing a trademark sound that fits him totally.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: ronny smith
  • CD Title: Just Groovin’
  • Genre: Smooth Jazz
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Pacific Coast Jazz
  • Tracks: Here We Go Again, Smooth, Superstition, 95 Drive, Just Groovin’, I’m Beside You, Groove 106, Forever Friends, Ticket To Rio, Blue Bossa
  • Musicians: Ronny Smith - guitars, Alan Alexander - keyboards and piano, Jeff Knoettner - keyboards and piano, Karl McNeil - bass guitar, Sam Bates - bass guitar, Tony Whitfield - bass guitar, Vernell Mincey -drums, Scott Martin - saxophone, Stan Martin - trumpet, Andy Martin - trombone
  • Rating: Four Stars
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