Since moving from Chesapeake, Virginia to New York City in 2001, Nate Smith has helped reinvigorate the international jazz scene with his visceral style of drumming by playing with such esteemed leading lights as bassist Dave Holland, saxophonists Chris Potter and Ravi Coltrane, and singers Patricia Barber, Somi, and José James. The New York Times described Smith as “a firecracker of a drummer.”
Smith’s rising career reaches a new benchmark with the release of his bandleader debut, KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere, on which he fuses his original modern jazz compositions with R&B, pop, and hip-hop. The disc shows Smith leading a scintillating core ensemble, consisting of pianist and keyboardist Kris Bowers, guitarist Jeremy Most, alto and soprano saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, electric bassist Fima Ephron, and singer and lyricist Amma Whatt, and Michael Mayo on backing vocals. The lineup expands on several cuts with the inclusion of Potter and Holland along with other illustrious guests – guitarists Lionel Loueke and Adam Rogers, and singer Gretchen Parlato.
As the title KINFOLK suggests, the music bristles with a magnetism that can be only achieved by assembling the right musicians, building upon and blending their individual voices and developing a bracing group rapport. Indeed, Smith refers to the aforementioned musicians as “kindred spirits,” while embracing some philosophies gleaned from his mentor, Holland. “Dave once told me, ‘I really believe that musicians find each other,’” Smith recalls. “He feels that all the collaborations he’s done and all the sidemen that he’s hired came into his life on purpose, even though he might not have been looking for something specific. He discovers people along the way.