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Richard Smith: Soulidified

Note to students in guitarist Richard Smith’s classes at the Thornton School at the University of Southern California: You want to make a smooth jazz CD? Listen to your professor’s latest, a catchy gob of ear candy that mixes delicious guitar licks with slammin’ grooves. For good measure, check out a rollicking cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Sing a Song,” and learn that it’s always a smart move to include a boomer classic on your CD. And remember, it doesn’t hurt to have established stars as Brian Bromberg, Brian Culbertson, Jeff Kashiwa and Jeff Lorber pop into the studio while you’re recording your next radio-friendly effort.

Lesson aside, though Smith has the formula down it doesn’t mean his CDs are oppressingly formulaic. On his eighth album, Soulidified, he riffs mostly on the electric guitar on cuts such as “Whatz Up?!” and “Diggin’ It,” but countenances a more sensitive side on the acoustic ax, which you can hear on “Gotta Have You” and on “Beyond the Mountains,” where he stretches out. On that selection and on “Intimato,” you hear why the passionately playing Smith is a popular guitar teacher at U.S.C.

Originally Published