The summer doldrums can befall even the most active souls, driving them indoors to the comfort of air-conditioning and entertainment systems. If this scenario seems all too familiar, then while you’re indoors, relax in your favorite spot and give a listen to pianist Nick Smith’s latest recording titled Influenced. The CD itself is a technical marvel and gives further credence to the one-man-band foundation of instrumentation while fully revealing Nick’s virtuosity as a pianist, producer, arranger and composer.
As the former keyboardist with The Tonight Show band and Musical Director and keyboardist for Grammy-winning artist Stanley Clarke, Nick Smith is no stranger to today’s state-of-the-art technology and the immediate creativity it lends to live performances and recording sessions. Influenced is an amalgamation of jazz, blues, fusion and soul jazz styles. The seamless sounds you hear are those of Nick playing keyboards while accompanied by various software instruments to emulate the audio characteristics of the instrumentation featured in each of the 10 songs.
Nick Smith’s precise blend of instrumentation for each song is artfully mixed by award-winning sound engineer Dennis Moody who makes everything sound as natural as a live recording session featuring guest musicians. Among the highlights, and there are many, is appropriately titled opener “Alternative Ways.” Here Nick incorporates BFD drum software that sounds so natural you’d swear you were listening to someone of Brian Blades’ expertise. However, Nick’s amazing pianism on the Kurzweil is performed live and he’s swinging hard.
“Amanda Hans” is a cool jewel that pays tribute to Nick’s friends and features some great horn software instrumentation. “Mom & Dad,” features Nick’s soul-jazz expertise using software that emulates the Rhodes perfectly. The sound and feel of this exceptional recording is flawless and will have you wondering “Is it live or is it Memorex?” For Nick Smith’s Influenced, it’s both! Overall, the entire project unifies technology with Nick’s live performances and this type of consolidation is a great way to produce music.