Joe Smith - The Weather
Live in Vic
featuring Bill McHenry and Masa Kamaguchi
All compositions by Joe Smith
Recorded live May 5th, 2023 at the Jazz Cava de Vic
as part of the 25é Alhambra Festival Jazz Vic
Cover Art by Andrew D'Angelo
Design by Pepon Meneses
Photos: Brandon Miller, Joan Cortès
Record Label: Underpool
Question & Answer about the Weather
Does this album have a conceptual idea? Something you intend to communicate?
I feel like the title “The Weather” just felt good for how the album was just sort of blown together… every part of the process had to be allowed to run it’s course with some things turning out sunny and others obscured by thick fog. As an artist and especially a leader, it can be hard to release one’s instinct to control everything and to simply let things flow, succeed or fail by themselves. That was a wonderful lesson I learned in the process and am very thankful for it. In the end what made it on the album was what felt the best to play that night and sounded the best placed together in the days after. I also think there is something very funny about how much importance we put on the weather sometimes even though normally it doesn’t really matter… it’s always changing and we can’t really control it… It’s also subjective as in a lot of people, myself included like rainy days... sometimes…
Where do the compositions come from? how do you work them? what inspires you?
The first two compositions where composed for, inspired by and dedicated to two very good friends of mine and were composed specifically for the concert in Vic which also happened to be the first time that they were ever performed. Both very new for the trio. The following two were part of a ten song compositional project that the trio had recorded earlier in the year. And the last three were old compositions from circa 2005 - 2009 that had never been recorded before that I thought would be good vehicles to feature each of us as soloists on.
As far as my compositional style is concerned it can be best described as Melodic/atonal… I compose a singable melody, add a logical and singable countermelody that feels like a bass line and then colorize both using simple harmony. The melody is the most important element and since it is not associated with any one key overall, the harmony is considered to be atonal. Singing and expressing Melody is what inspires me…
What would you highlight about the music on this recording?
The music on this album is special because it was a live performance and very much improvised and created in the moment by all of us working, listening and forging ahead the best we could, together, with what happened in the moment. The audience members who were there could see, feel and hear that without explanation. This Music can also give a listener in the privacy of their own home the chance to experience the music the same way. It is not meant to be listened to as background music in a crowded bar but silently with eyes closed and ears open.
How would you define Bill and Masa as musicians? What do they contribute to the project?
Bill being one of my oldest friends and musical associates has had an egnormace impact on my musical evolution. An amazing teacher by word and even more importantly, by action, it has always been a sought after challenge and privilege to share the bandstand with him whenever possible and I have asked him to collaborate in many of my projects as a leader. His very personal voice, tone and melodic choices are instantly recognizable and he always has something to say, taking his time to present, build upon and break up his musical ideas and stories. Masa is a unique force of musical nature. Having had the pleasure of working with him over the last 20 or more years, I have come to love the absolute rock solid dedication that he delivers to absolutely every note, his ability to know how and when to support and also when to take over and sprinkle his magic all over the music. By uniting these two together on the bandstand with me, I as a drummer need to simply strap in, open my ears and do my best to present my own musical voice as solid as theirs, without getting in their way. A job and responsibility that has been my intension from the beginning.
Photo by Brandon Miller
Formal EPK in English and German here
Drummer - Composer
I was born in Galesburg, Illinois, a small town west of Chicago, but spent my formative years in New York City playing with and learning from many of the best musicians the scene had to offer. After moving to Barcelona in 2000, I was lucky enough to release two albums as a leader featuring my own compositions. Happy (2002) and Melodic Workshop (2004) which features Bill McHenry, Gorka Benitez, Guillermo Klein, Chris Lightcap and Jorge Rossy. In 2008 I formed the Asociación Libre Orkesta, a free-form Big Band which performs improvised music inspired by my poetry and projected images and which I also conduct.
My project, build-i-n-g features Liz Kosack on synthesizers and piano and Andrew D'Angelo on Alto Saxophone. Our debut albums Muladhara Rising and Feel Honey (2022) presents my compositions mixing forward-moving rubato melodies and improvisations above pulse without meter grooves. For more information, please visit our website www.build-i-n-g.com
My new trio features Bill McHenry on Tenor Saxophone and Masa Kamaguchi on Double bass and explores my compositions in a more straight ahead jazz setting.
I am also blessed to have the opportunity to perform as a sideman in many wonderful and diversely-styled groups.
As a whim I began a project in 2008 with the intension of combining short stories with original compositions with lyrics. In the end, the music side of the project was never released but it opened me up to a whole new word of creation and expression. In 2016 I published the nine stories as Nickels & Dimes and other stories and am so thankful for what they taught me about creating art and sharing ideas and emotions.
In the last four years I have been writing a three part novel entitled Abraham. The story takes place in Berlin and tells the story of a vibrationist, a person who creates vibrations in ceremonies that take place in temples where the gathered come to drink bliss and experience the rituals. And that's just the beginning.
The best periods right now are when I can write consecutively everyday even if it is just a sentence. Many times I am as surprised as a would-be reader would be at what comes out. I am very much looking forward to sharing it in another few years when it is ready.
This year I also began writing a non-fiction book called The Pyramid Ritual that will explore a warm-up and learning method that I have been developing for the last few years with some of my students. I would also like to incorporate stories and experiences from my past that directly concern drumming and music in general. So my mornings are busy. ;o)
If you're curious, you can buy a printed/ebook edition of the first set of stories here.
Book cover design and image By: Ylva Neuwmann