Raise The Roof

The fact guitarist Ronny Smith grew up listening to Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and George Benson does much to explain the tight melodic style that categorizes his playing.  It is a style that he began to develop while still in junior high school and the time he subsequently spent performing, first with various bands at University then later in the armed forces, expanded both his musical and geographic horizons.  More importantly it led him to a career as a sought after backing musician.  Collaborations with artists as diverse as the Marvellettes, Melba Moore and jazz drummer Bobby Durham all added to Smith’s reputation while as a solo artist he has been steadily building a significant body of work.   This commenced in 2001 with ‘Long Time Comin’ and continued with ‘Laid Back’, ‘Got Groove’, ‘Simply Stated’, ‘Just Groovin’ and his highly acclaimed 2013 project ‘Can’t Stop Now’.  ‘Shake It Up’ followed four years later and now, signed to the highly rated Skytown Records label; he is about to expand his discography yet further with ‘Raise The Roof’ that will be released January 27, 2020.

By and large ‘Raise The Roof’ is the ‘Ronny Smith Show’ front back and center.  Not only does he play guitar, keys and bass throughout he also arranges, produces and programs all ten tunes. Eight of these are original compositions cleverly complemented by the addition of two immaculately crafted covers.  The first is an edgy interpretation of the Bill Withers classic ‘Use Me’ with the second being a classy re-imagining of the Carpenters blockbuster ‘Superstar’.  Truth to tell he makes both sound brand new and when (for the only time) he calls upon the input of a supporting artist it is Scott Martin on sax that adds another dimension to the easy grooving ‘Cool Breeze’.

The first single to be serviced to radio is ‘Me Time’ that demonstrates the innate feel Smith has for understated yet compelling smooth jazz.  Much the same can be said of the warmly inviting ‘On It’ for which he certainly is and although ‘Brazilian Dancer’ proves to be a supercharged Latin extravaganza Smith is able to channel that same energy into the foot tapping, in the pocket ‘Breaded Funk Well Done’.

Another number that really fizzes is the high-octane title cut.  The perfect vehicle for Smith’s virtuosity, it is in the good company of the moodily delicious ‘Brighter Day’ and a blues tinged rendition of ‘Say It Again’ where Smith’s interlude on bass guitar is something to savor. 

‘Raise The Roof’ is a fantastic way to become acquainted with Ronny Smith’s special vibe.  It is due out on January 27, 2020 and is not to be missed.