The Sean Smith Quartet is Sean Smith on bass, John Ellis on tenor and soprano saxophones, John Hart on guitar, and Russell Meissner on drums. Its members have played together for twelve years, and share a similar passion and vision for music. This kinship helps to define a very distinctive group sound noted for its rare lyrical quality. With Sean's songful and melodic compositions underscoring the quartet, their uniquely warm acoustic sound reveals a respect and love for the jazz tradition and beyond. With the same spirit, the group will subtly take you on the occasional odd journey. Their new recording (2011) is called “TRUST” and it’s on Smithereen Records™. Their previous recordings are "Sean Smith Quartet Live!" (on Chiaroscuro), and "Poise" (on Ambient), both featuring Sean's compositions and have been received with great acclaim.
Review: from the March 2011 issue of Hot House Magazine
By George Kanzler
Trust (Smithereen) by the Sean Smith Quartet is truly a rarity – a thoughtful, sophisticated quartet album adept at both swing and chamber jazz intricacy and delicacy. While group dynamics and ensembles are impeccable, there is ample room made for improvisatory creativity and, thanks largely to Smith’s bass and Russell Meissner’s drums, plenty of flexible rhythmic heft. As an added enticement, Smith’s dozen originals are all singular, and often memorable, in their own ways. Rounding out the quartet are saxophonist John Ellis, whose tenor shares a bit that yearning tone characterizing (Ernie) Watts, and the crisp, pellucid guitar of John Hart.
Smith, the composer, has a voracious stylistic appetite that ranges far and wide, from the multi-themes and shifting tempos of the bop-swing “Betting Blind” and the Wayne Shorter-influenced, flux-time “Wayne’s World” to the exotic “Homemade Japanese Folk Song” with its weaving tenor sax and kora-like guitar patterns, and the Mideast feel of “Izmir/The Maharajah,” from its opening plucked bass theme to the snake charmer soprano long tones over tom toms giving way to a guitar solo set to a drifting shuffle beat. Then there are the infectious, jingle-like tunes reminiscent of Raymond Scott or Vince Guaraldi, such as the swaggering “Lawn Ornaments” and the two-step shuffle “Ditty For Ms. de’ Medici.” There’s also catchy hard-bop (“What’d You Say?”), an evocative ballad (“Voices”) and a sumptuous feature entitled “Graham Ewan” for the leader’s arco bass, over rubato guitar chords. By the time the CD ends with the captivating samba “Margin of Error” you realize there hasn’t been any on this album.
Review: from the April 2011 issue of Jersey Jazz
By Joe Lang
SEAN SMITH has always been, for me, one of the most interesting bassists on the scene. He has a coherence and compositional sense in his solos that never dismisses the song being addressed while still adding lines that hint at full melodies just around the corner. On Trust (Smithereen- 1001), Smith has called upon a trio of musical sympathizers, guitarist John Hart, saxophonist John Ellis and drummer Russell Meissner, to explore 12 of his original compositions. Each piece is unique and has an accompanying title that demonstrates Smith’s musical and intellectual curiosity. His band mates travel Smith’s musical paths with their own wonderful imaginations, and bring out all of the nuances in his compositions. This is music to be listened to with concentration at the forefront. Each session spent with this music will bring new rewards.