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Motor City's Hughes Smith Quartet

Like different gears interlocked, each composition spins and creates its own momentum while driving the next. The result is Motion, a highly tuned machine that you will want to take for a spin around the block…more than a few times.

James Hughes: saxophones (alto, soprano)
Jimmy Smith: trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn
Phil Kelly: piano, Fender Rhodes
Takashi Iio: bass
Nate Winn: drums
“…inspired by the grand Motor City jazz scene of the 1950s and early '60s, these players update and extend that tradition with excellent writing, arranging, and playing for the 21st century.”
-Thom Jurek, allmusic.com

Saxophonist James Hughes and Trumpeter Jimmy Smith have collaborated for a third time with the release of Motion. Their book of originals has continued to expand thus necessitating an album to document their growth as a band and as individuals. The group has been mixing straight ahead jazz from the ‘70s into their regular repertoire, which has influenced their compositions and approach. Hughes and Smith have blended the high energy, deep grooves, colors, and textures of this period in jazz with their own modern sensibilities.

The Hughes/Smith Quintet is a working band, playing festivals and club dates continually since 2013. The collection of tunes on Motion is a result of slowly working in each one on live gigs, until they were refined and polished. They called upon their original bandmates to record this new set of tunes. Phil Kelly, a long time Detroit staple on piano, expands his reach to masterfully incorporate the Fender Rhodes on a few tracks. Bassist Takashi Iio and drummer Nate Winn lay down thick grooves and provide all-kinds of fire with fresh, interactive, and innovative playing.

The all-original tunes, were written with very specific things in mind. James and Jimmy have stories to tell, on and off the bandstand. Their tunes tell a few of these stories. Composed with the listener in mind, each track has a distinct vibe and paints a sonic scene. “Runaround” composed by Smith is a funky, high-spirited, time-shifting piece with an infectious bass line and slithery melody written for the crazy times he had spent teaching music in public schools.

The introspective “Rue” composed by Hughes is a ‘drum and bass’ tune that pictures the confluence of fear and hope through the soaring melody played by whispering tones of muted trumpet and tenor saxophone against the tolling chords played by piano and bass. The quintet doesn’t lose sight of its roots in Detroit hard-bop, and comes out swinging hard on “Intersections, ” with a dazzling solo by Kelly on piano.

At the heart of what makes Hughes and Smith tick, is how they play together. “Waxwing” is a prime example of how they breath, phrase and articulate in unison, blending their distinct and personal sounds to form new colors, separate parts are combined to achieve a higher goal.

Like different gears interlocked, each composition spins and creates its own momentum while driving the next. The result is Motion, a highly tuned machine that you will want to take for a spin around the block…more than a few times.

Their latest endeavor Motion, releases on January 30, 2018.

James Hughes: saxophones (alto, soprano)
Jimmy Smith: trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn
Phil Kelly: piano, Fender Rhodes
Takashi Iio: bass
Nate Winn: drums

1. The Runaround 4:54
2. Intersections 6:05
3. Waxwing 5:38
4. Sidamo 3:41
5. Elizabeth 5:16
6. Rue 3:43
7. Wanting More 5:58
8. Promenade with Molly 3:39
9. Gig Fries 1:33
10. Chips & Slaw 5:24

 
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