Following in the tradition of Tom Scott & The L.A. Express, one of the most successful and influential jazz/funk/pop/R&B bands from the '70s, guitarist Richard Smith has assembled an all-star cast of fellow Los Angeles-based players for an updating of that same crossover aesthetic that opened the door to jazz for a generation of listeners. Collectively known as The L.A. Chillharmonic featuring Richard Smith, this stellar crew is rounded out by the world class rhythm tandem of bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Alex Acuña, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, pianists Patrice Rushen and Greg Karukas, trumpeter Greg Adams, saxophonists Gary Meek, Michael Paulo, and Eric Marienthal.
"It's something that represents the best and brightest in my geographic area," says Smith, a former longtime sideman for chart-topping saxophonist Richard Elliott. "Most major cities have a philharmonic orchestra in the classical idiom, and some cities have municipal jazz bands, but no city has something that represents a major musical genre like instrumental jazz/funk/pop/R&B. And with this project I just wanted to represent and celebrate the unique musical signature as Los Angeles players, writers and arrangers."
On their groove-heavy self-titled debut on Artistry Music, Smith and his dream team deliver a quintessentially L.A. sound - contemporary jazz with pop accessibility and a funky R&B edge - on infectious Smith originals like "Ultimate X," "Back in the Day" and the hard-grooving title track along with faithful covers of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman," Brian McKnight's romantic "What We Do Here" and Dan Siegel's bubbling romp "Alvinator." For a change of pace, Smith offers some gentle nylon string acoustic guitar work on the soothing "Gift," which features alluring wordless vocals and a stellar piano solo by Patrice Rushen, and also on "Agrigento," a tender ballad which he says "captures a little bit of Sicily but with an L.A. Beat."