A beatific album of hymns and inspired originals shepherded by bassist Sean O’Bryan Smith and anointed by an accomplished minion of 23 musicians, “Reflection” will be released July 17th on Groove Therapy Records. Smith produced and arranged the offering of soul, contemporary jazz and gospel selections that comprise the second solo album from the in-demand bass player. Previewing the 12-song disc, the rousing rocker “Blessed Be Your Name” featuring guitarist Chuck Loeb, saxophonist Tommy Ogle and pianist-songwriter Jeff Franzel (Taylor Swift, *NSYNC, Clay Aiken) goes for radio adds June 11th.
Three years in the making, “Reflection” was conceived as Smith listened to hymnals and spirituals at church while on break from touring. After creating fresh arrangements for classics such as opener “How Great Thou Art,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” and celestial covers “Blessed Be Your Name,” “Give Me Jesus,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” and “Yes You Have,” he composed two originals. “Called” is an infectious soul-jazz groove graced by Gerald Albright’s soaring sax while the record’s title track is a thought-provoking spoken word sermon delivered faithfully by Malcolm Jamal-Warner. Franzel contributed a third original, “Me Without You,” an aching torch song blessed with Lisa Hearns’ yearning voice. Throughout “Reflection,” Smith coaxes robust rhythms and divine melodies from his four- and five-string basses, six-string fretless bass, upright bass and piccolo bass. Other prominent soloists on the album are Randy Brecker’s prayerful trumpet on “Give Me Jesus” and Frank Catalano’s saxophone on the New Orleans-flavored march “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and the soul-stirring “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.”
“‘Reflection’ is a tribute not only to great hymns and worship tunes, but also a nod to where I’ve come from as a musician and where I’m heading as an artist. All of the music that inspires me is present on this project along with a few surprises. My greatest hope is for people to enjoy the music and hopefully feel some of the inspiration that I feel,” said Smith, who recorded in his Nashville studio with co-producer Rich Krainak. “As the basis of ‘Reflection,’ I wanted to return to my roots in soul music and sought an underlying feel reminiscent of an old STAX album. We purposely went for a lot of older tones and we mixed everything through an old Trident analog console to give it just the right touch. The end result is an album that hopefully people will enjoy while venturing on a nostalgic trip through gospel and contemporary jazz.”
Days after “Reflection” streets, Smith will perform at a July 21st album release gig at the Snow Basin Ski Resort in Snow Basin, Utah that will be filmed for a concert DVD.
Diversity is an integral part of Smith’s three-decade career. His bass mastery makes him a first-call musician on tour and for recording sessions with marquee artists including Esperanza Spalding, Lady Antebellum, Anna Wilson, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Carlton, Brian Bromberg, Victor Wooten, Rick Braun and some of the “American Idol” and “Canadian Idol” contestants. Smith released his internationally acclaimed solo debut, “Tapestry,” in 2008. In addition to being devoted to supporting “Reflection,” he is a member of two new jazz groups: Thunder-Smith-Taylor boasts legendary drummer Tony “Thunder” Smith (Mahavishnu, Santana) and Grammy nominated guitarist Joe Taylor, and Polcat, a jazz fusion outfit made up of Grammy winning saxman Catalano, guitarist Chris Poland (Megadeth, OHM) and drummer Jim Gifford. Additional information about Smith is available at www.seanobryansmith.com.
The songs on Smith’s “Reflection” are:
“How Great Thou Art”
“Mighty To Save”
“Blessed Be Your Name”
“Me Without You”
“Will The Circle Be Unbroken”
“Give Me Jesus”
“The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”
“Yes You Have”
“Battle Hymn Of The Republic”