is a prime example of the who-knows-how-many fine musicians who labor in relative obscurity in a local market, working to perfect their craft with few options for achieving national prominence, but making a living performing, teaching, perhaps doing some writing and publishing, and recording and distributing their own work on CD through their concerts, word of mouth and the InterNet. Typically, they have little chance of breaking into major record labels as they have no interest in participating whatever narcissistic fad is currently obsessing the record industry executives. This is honest music, honestly performed and well appreciated in local theaters, clubs and schools.
Flutist and saxophonist Smith is a fixture of the Toronto jazz scene, working with a trio, a quartet and a quintet, as well as coaching the Advocats
big band, running regular jazz workshops, music camps, master classes and a booking agency and teaching private students. Blue & Green
is his third recording and, according to his notes, represents "what the Latin quartet sounds like in performance," so we can categorize this as Canadian Latin jazz! The quartet features acoustic guitar and percussion rather than drum set, with Smith moving between soprano, tenor and flute to add variety to the group's color. They have chosen interesting material and approach it a little differently; A Night In Tunisia
, for example, is taken at a loping medium tempo rather than at breakneck speed, while Miles Davis' Blue In Green
, normally a slow ballad, is given a waltz-time treatment and Bye-Ya
is a Latin version of a Monk tune which doesn't happen too often.
I asked Smith if he was able to play full time in the Toronto area.
"Yes," he told me, "there's not enough playing for everybody but we get more work in Toronto than in other cities."
"Are things skewed the same way in Canada as in the US in the record business?"
"Yes, there is good support for Canadian artists, although the little labels struggle against the big ones. And of course I am independent so I can't even get placement in Tower etc."
There are a great many CDs available in Tower--many of them are a lot worse than this!