Jazz is not a solitary experience.
While on occasion we can be captivated by solo jazz piano, or even a lone saxophonist playing for coins on a street corner, jazz is normally presented in an ensemble. And that ensemble usually numbers at least three. So, while it’s not unheard of for a duo to produce great jazz, it’s also not run of the mill.
But there is nothing run of the mill about “Iowa Duets.”
Pat Smith and Rich Wagor prove that two can be a magic number in jazz, as they pluck, strum and tap their way through this engaging collection of standards and originals.
As is the case with any superior jazz group, what makes this music special is the interplay between the instruments, and the relationship between the musicians which that interplay illustrates. The communication and friendship between the swinging jazz guitar veteran and the classically-trained bassist is obvious in every note.
“Iowa Duets” proves that the best jazz is a musical conversation. And also, that it only takes two to make that conversation special.
Iowa’s Jazz Station
Iowa Duets is quiet music inspired by life in the Midwest. It is a musical conversation between Pat Smith on Guitar and Richard Wagor on the Acoustic Bass. We feature some very familiar standards as well as two of Pat's original tunes. As a bonus track there is an acoustic Bluegrass flavored jam on the traditional "Shady Grove" with guests; Doug Stock on Dobro, Natalie Brown on Fiddle and Jon Eric on Banjo.
Pat - I'm a Guitar player. I started in 1969 when I finally got the guitar I had wanted since seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Meanwhile I had gone through tap dancing, Piano, Clarinet and Bassoon lessons which, at the time weren't what I was interested in. I played in garage bands through high school in Evanston Il. I also played in the E.T.H.S Jazz band my senior year. In the summer of 1975 I was sent off to Coe College in Cedar Rapids Iowa where I played in the Jazz Band the first year and in the Swing Choir the second year. Like many youthful bums, I was more interested in playing guitar and girls than I was in studying. It was during this time that I started my main vocation of playing in dive bars, I still consider myself a "Bar Guitarist." So, after two years I went back to Evanston. I pursued assorted things, more school, Guitar building, and teaching. I have been very lucky to have studied with some wonderful and inspiring pickers, I have taken seminars or lessons with Ken Bloom, David Bloom, Howard Roberts, Pat Martino, Joe Pass, Lenny Breau, Ron Eschete, Ted Greene, Joe Diorio, Jethro Burns, Guy Van Duser, and John Stowell. I also spent some time taking Sitar lessons with Som Mujumdar. I have played in many styles which has been both good and bad. Good because it's fun to try on different hats and bad because I never really got down to one style. In 1987 we moved to California and I started to concentrate on Jazz. I played with a fusion band called Io and some assorted Blues bands. Then, around 1994, my hearing having faded a bit, I started having bad headaches after I would play a gig and had to give up loud music. I started a band called The Penguin Jazz Quartet to play quiet Jazz. The PJQ disbanded in 2000 and I went on to start a Brazilian band called Nossa Bossa. I moved back to Iowa in 2008 and started playing duets with Bassist Rich Wagor.
Rich - Richard Wagor currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mr. Wagor, in earning his BA in music from the University of Iowa and a MM from Manhattan School of Music, has worked with various teachers including Eldon Obrecht, Diana Gannett, Homer Mensch, and Robert Kassinger. Mr. Wagor has also performed in a wide variety of professional settings. Mr. Wagor has played orchestrally as a member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, and the Dubuque Symphony. Additionally, Richard has performed as a substitute bassist with Orchestra Iowa, the Quad Cities Symphony, the Illinois Symphony, The Arkansas Symphony, the Delta Symphony, the Kenosha Symphony, the Austin Symphony, and others. Mr. Wagor has also played other Genres of music with Pat Smith, Jennifer Lee, Tim Daugherty, Leni Stern, Stephanie Wright, the Yale Repertory Theater, NOWIS, the Bill Shepherd Big Band, the Rod Pierson Small Band, Peter Hart, and the band Joecephus and the George Jonestown massacre. As a teacher, Mr. Wagor has formerly held positions with the University of Northern Iowa and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and currently teaches at Coe College in Cedar Rapids and Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.