Opening with the title track "When Katie Smiles,' a gentle groove invites the listener into the visionary mind of Kim Pensyl as he twists and turns on keyboard with a strong backing by Reggie Jackson on drums. This upbeat tune lightens the mood. Putting himself emotionaly 'out there' Pensyl states, "Each album is something very personal, emotional and expressive" as he shares his feelings so openly, creating a bond of understanding that he treasures.
"Slap Happy" steps up the tempo, executing a pronounced interplay between Kim's masterful keyboard and Reggie Jackson's strong drumm arrangement. Driven by a deep bass, this tune makes the listener want to tap, pop or shake something. Returning with "Where'd Love Go?," the group stays finely tuned to each other on the entire trip through this contemplative song. Appropriately "Here Comes The Rain" follows, keeping the listener in a thought provoking mood, though more spritely in ambiance. Pensyl's keyboard is powerful, blended with a fine percussion. Kevin Turner does a nice stand up on guitar for this song.
Slowing down, allowing each keystroke to penetrate the listener, "Grand Lake" is a solemn melody with grandness. Picking up the mood again, "Gentlewind Dr.," Jacson's skill on drums is a delightful interplay with Pensyl's artful keyboard work. Turner strolls the strings of his guitar while Cobbs keeps a tight rhythm on percussion. Expansive and engaging, "Gentlewind Dr." is peaceful yet exploding with rich sound. Penned by Pensyl, "Beside The Shallow Pond" has a familiar and comfortable feel to it. Light and airy, "Summer Days" is percussion driven, guitar enriched , and keyboard edged.
Strings open "Once Again" as a deluxe setting for Pensyl's elaboration on keys. Closing the album with "Love Comes First" is a perfect way to express what Pensyl feels about his musical creations as well as his love for his adoring family. A finely tuned craft of writing, performing and sharing his love of music with audiences is what Kim Pensyl is all about. His talent for interplay, releasing just the right note at the right moment, creating suspence and delivering all the listener hopes for is a very special skill Kim Pensyl has shared for 20 warm, wonderful years. No wonder Pensyl made Billboard's top 20 Contemporary Jazz Artist of the year--twice.
Along with keyboard, Pensyl also plays trumpet and has recorded with Toots Thielmans, Joey Calderazzo, Andy Narell, Chuck Bergeron, Will Kennedy, Alex Acuna among many others. He has performed with his band on PBS, BET Jazz and Mexico TV. Pensyl also holds a faculty position at Ohio State University. He writes and performs with guest artists Arturo Sandoval, Bob Mintzer, Terri Lyne Carrington and Pensyl still performs regularly in Ohio. The band is ready to roll and eager to spread the word of this latest creation When Katie Smiles.