Guitarist Richard Smith released his eighth solo album last month entitled Soulidified, a collection of R&B, contemporary jazz, funk and buoyant pop tunes. It’s his first album of all new material in three years and his debut for the A440 Music Group record label. Currently Smith’s fun and funky version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Sing A Song” is keeping smooth jazz radio programmers singing. The cut is the only cover tune on the album as Smith penned or co-wrote the rest of the record, which was produced by bassist Brian Bromberg. Contributing to the disc was a talented supporting cast of musicians including Jeff Lorber, Brian Culbertson, Jeff Kashiwa, Freddie Ravel, and Alex Acuna.
Most of the compositions on Soulidified were written by Smith a few years ago while he was living abroad in Europe and were recorded over a two-year period in Los Angeles. When wielding an electric, Smith dispenses cool R&B guitar riffs with aplomb and many of the tracks lean in the urban adult direction. With his acoustic instrument, a more sensitive and contemplative style emerges, which on occasion gives way to flourishes of seductive Latin rhythms. The constants in the work of this guitar master are that his playing is soul-inspired and passionate. Although Smith’s guitarwork is front and center, Soulidified is made larger-than-life with blasts of crisp horns and anchored by the deep grooves courtesy of Bromberg’s bumping bass lines and the slamming beats of drummer Derrick “D-Loc” Walker, who plays in Snoop Dogg’s band.
There is a reason that Smith’s albums serve as textbooks for guitarists: he is also a tenured professor at the Thornton School at the University of Southern California. Smith was the youngest guitarist to ever head the guitar department when he was appointed at age 29 and he went on to create the first doctoral program in jazz guitar in the world. Last year, Smith founded GuitarMasters, a community outreach program for at-risk youth that provides free lessons, classes, guitars and mentoring in South Central Los Angeles through the Challengers Boys and Girls Club. In addition to his solo career, Smith has recorded and toured with such smooth jazz luminaries as Peter White, Marc Antoine, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Warren Hill and Richard Elliot, who Smith recorded six #1 albums with.
Richard Smith’s Soulidified album contains the following songs:
“Sing A Song”
“Gotta Have You”
“Beyond The Mountains”
“Inspired by You”