Jeffrey Smith – Down Here Below

Down Here BelowJeffrey Smith
Down Here Below
R. Redmond

Down Here Below is a step forward for singer Jeffery Smith. This eclectic collection of unique standards, and two signature tunes by songstress Abbey Lincoln (“Throw It Away” and the title tune), will hit the jazz vocal scene with a blast of musical fresh air. I was a little thrown off when the CD began with a rhythmic reading of “Afro Blue”, featuring African vocalist Assitan Mama Keita, but it set the tone for what was to follow. For good or for bad, the music on this disc has an energy that seems to stretch Jeffery’s talents into areas that have not been explored on his previous recordings.

The talents of instrumentalists and arrangers Rodney Kendrick &Talib Kibwe, plus the violin artistry of Regina Carter, lend an edge to this release that reaches far beyond the lush romanticism usually associated with Smith’s music. For those that prefer Jeffery’s more traditional balladeering, he does a great duet with guest Dianne Reeves on “Ask Me Now”.

Overall this is a collection of good songs and performances. Reminiscent of the way Phil Perry hit the scene a few years ago, Jeffery Smith is making his mark now, as the male jazz vocalist to watch!