Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Sean Smith

As the crow flies, you could measure the major career move by bassist Sean Smith as being some 25 miles. “I was born and raised in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, Connecticut, and now I live in the Riverdale section of New York.” Between those polar extremes there have been years of woodshedding, writing, playing, recording, touring and waiting for the phone to ring. Smith has no day gig; he’s one of the lucky ones who can make a living playing jazz. “It’s been a long process. Freelancing goes up and down, studio work has dried up, but word of mouth has been good,” Smith says. “I feel fortunate in being able to work. I just hope I can keep the band together, to keep recording and tour with them.”

“Them” consists of alto saxophonist Allen Mezquida, pianist Bill Charlap and drummer Russell Meissner. All but Meissner are on Smith’s 1999 debut album, Sean Smith Quartet Live! “Make sure you include the exclamation point,” Smith reminds me by phone from New York. “That’s the way Chiaroscuro titled it.” His latest release, on the Ambient label, has no exclamation point. It is simply called Poise. Poise is such an apt word in describing Sean Smith. Certain personality traits manage to travel over a phone line, and when they coincide with what you hear on his new CD, those images are underscored. He is gentle, modest and unassuming-traits that extend to his recording and his philosophy about being generous with solos by the sidemen, which includes guitarist Keith Ganz on a few Poise cuts.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published