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Sean O'Bryan Smith: Tapestry (2008)

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Sean O'Bryan Smith: Tapestry How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Listening to Sean O'Bryan Smith is a little like listening to Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Wayman Tisdale—all at the same time. Maybe that's because Smith uses a variety of bass instruments, and weaves them together like a Tapestry.

Smith is a much sought-after musician who has played a variety of genres. Among those who have called on his talents are Anna Wilson, Steve Azar and Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2007, he was musical director of the Hammer and Honques house band for the Fox television program Nashville. He's also led his own jazz bands, opening up for widely known talents including Kermit Ruffins, Fattburger and the late Michael Brecker.

On Tapestry, Smith is supported by a huge cast in ever-changing small ensembles. He plays several instruments, including four and six-string fretted basses, a five-string fretless, and a four-string tenor bass.

"Sweet" begins on a solemn note, played by keyboardist Ken Rarick. After the melancholy monologue, the bass kicks in and energizes the song. Smith uses two fretted basses and also plays rhythm guitar. Alto saxophonist Mitch Reilly contributes, setting up a guitar solo by Steve McRuiz. At times, the song sounds like a Clarke-Duke Project piece, circa 1980.

The cleverly titled "Sprung Chicken" is more of an easygoing, bluesy piece. Tim Gonzalez adds the harmonica. With one bass carrying the rhythm, Smith uses the other as a lead instrument. McRuiz adds to the fun with an engaging electric guitar solo.

"El Corazon" is one of those songs that could be the soundtrack to an action film sequence. Rich Eckhardt joins with several guitars, including nylon string guitar. Saxophonists Karl Wingruber and Tommy Ogle, along with trombonist Scott Kinney, give this piece a dramatic flair.

Smith wrote all nine tracks for Tapestry and, despite the constant rotation of personnel, the album doesn't lack consistency. Though the guitars and other instruments lead here and there, it's Smith's basses that carry the weight. And that's what gives the whole album the feel of something done by Clarke, Miller or Tisdale.

Track Listing: Sweet; Fresh Cup; Sprung Chicken; Tapestry; Rain; El Corazon; Last Call; Vashon; Just Being Me.

Personnel: Sean OBryan Smith: bass, rhythm guitar (1, 2, 4, 7), loop programming (3, 4), keyboards (4, 5), synthesizers (6-8), tenor bass guitar (5, 7); Randy Nations: electric guitar (1); Shannon Wickline: keyboards (1, 4); Mitch Reilly: alto saxophone (1), whistles (5); Mel Watts: drums (1, 3, 9), percussion (1, 3), loop programming (1); Ken Rarick: keyboards (2); Steve McRuiz: lead guitar (2), electric guitars (3); Tommy Ogle: alto saxophone (2, 7), tenor saxophone (6, 9), piano (8); Glenn Williams: drums and percussion (2); Tim Gonzalez: harmonica (3); Ryan Bottoms: guitars (4, 7); Rick Eckhardt: lead guitar solo (4); Crawford Perkins: tenor saxophone (4); Joe Scheibelhoffer: drums (4, 6), percussion (4); Jonathan Penalber: keyboards (6); Karl Wingruber: alto saxophone (6, 9); Scott Kinney: trombone (6); Jeff Skunk Baxter: lead and electric rhythm guitars (7); Teddy Andreadis: Wurlitzer (7); Jerry Marotta: drums and percussion (7); John Ellis: lead hollow-body electric guitar (8); Gary Ishee: lead and rhythm electric guitars (8); Johnny Barranco: electric guitar (9); Larry Van Loon: Hammond organ and piano (9); Sherrie Isola: vocals (9); Gypsy Carns: dobro and vocals (9).

Record Label: Groove Therapy Records

Style: Funk/Groove


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