This live concert recording was in the top 50 for jazz radio play in the US for several weeks in 2012. Some video clips of the concert are available on YouTube. The concert was performed and recorded with a single rehearsal and only one take! Check out the wonderful feedback...
• “Pete is a melodic player who has improvisational chops to spare. He doesn't just play notes; they all mean something. He may be one of my favorite improvisers. Great backing by the trio makes (The Jerome Kern Concert …Live!) a terrific recording. The Great American Songbook survives with this CD. Highly recommended.” - Ed Benson (Owner/ Editor/ Publisher of Just Jazz Guitar Magazine)
• “Guitarist Pete Smyser aims for the fat part of the Great American Songbook and scores. Jerome Kern's music is about as good as it gets. And Smyser and his quartet give it a respectful flourish on this live recording... The tunes are eminently approachable, and Smyser is a delicate interpreter, finding the enjoyable without pandering. Lawton is well known for his expertise in these tunes. "Make Believe" shows some swinging momentum, while "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" goes out on a lustrous note.” - Karl Stark (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
• “The melodies are soothing and guitarist Pete Smyser does them justice by placing emphasis on all the right places. Together [the quartet] makes music that is fit for almost any occasion, ready to groove on tracks like “Dearly Beloved” and “A Fine Romance” but mostly relaxers that swing.” – Oscar Groomes (O’s Place Jazz Magazine) May 2012
• “Jazz guitarist Pete Smyser contains that type of pivotal talent to quiet the senses with his expressive melodic lines. When I listened to his take on the jazz standard 'Dearly Beloved,' I was assured that the future of jazz is 'safe' as it were in the capable hands of today's jazz artists. This is a 'today' virtuoso who walks the musical walk, and plays the musical talk. He delivers his talents with a certain detachment... Yet, his music is offered to us his listeners with a touch of lively muscular rhythm and melody, with ideas that he continuously explores, a feat raising him above his contemporaries
in this very well attended world of capable jazz guitar players. Last, his intimate and somewhat restless style is a welcome change that captures an unmistakable liveliness and strength which he delivers so honestly and assertively.” -George W Carroll (The Musicians' Ombudsman)
• “Jerome Kern is one of my favorite composers. Guitarist Pete Smyser has done a fine job of interpreting songs from the Kern catalog on “The Jerome Kern Concert”. He makes a program of familiar songs seem as fresh today as when they were first introduced. At home with any tempo, he takes his 7-string guitar on interesting adventures, supported by his sympathetic rhythm partners. This album serves as a fine example of why the Great American Songbook remains a source of inspiration for jazz musicians.” - Joseph Lang (for the Jersey Jazz Journal – published by the NJ Jazz Society)
• “With deserved endorsements from guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, the 7-string guitarist Pete Smyser is releasing his first live recording, “The Jerome Kern Concert,” which documents a wonderful performance at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA from January 2011. The crisp sound and superior acoustics promote a relaxed, yet sophisticated vibe as Smyser interprets Kern’s well-known melodies... The musical bond that Smyser has with pianist Tom Lawton, bassist Madison Rast and drummer Dan Monaghan is tight and tuneful. Lawton is a particularly ace accompanist, filling his solos with colorful hues, and he comps in the classic tradition. Smyser is a mainstay on the Philadelphia scene and his website lists the many opportunities to catch him in the act... Smyser has the chops and rhythmic flair to delight fans of classic jazz standards delivered in a style reminiscent of Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel and to his credit, played with a verve all his own.” – Nick Bewsy (for ICON Magazine)
RADIO DJ TESTIMONIALS ...
• “Pete Smyser’s CD is a delightful mix of creativity and first rate musicianship” – Bob Collins (WRHU)
• “We're so glad to have 'discovered' you! We'll definitely be playing more of you in future shows.” -Gano & Bev (Two4Jazz programs on Pure Jazz Radio)
• “Thanks for sending along your tasteful CD. Hey, how can you go wrong with Kern.... and with a great trio behind you. Looking forward to playing it on some upcoming shows.” –Bob Craig (WRTI)
• “Congratulations on a really terrific album. I really had a great time listening to it and it made me feel good. It’s a very cool CD because you can just let it roll and you will be happy, happy, happy!” –Lise Avery (host of Anything Goes Radio – an internationally syndicated radio program)
“I enjoy the record very much! You played some great stuff and the single string jazz lines are fantastic. I think the chords are fantastic too when you play like the George Van Eps style …was very, very good. Just keep going. You’ve got it going real good.” – Bucky Pizzarelli (living legend of the 7-string jazz guitar)
“I really enjoyed the CD - great tunes beautifully interpreted!” –Howard Alden (jazz guitarist)
“I received the CD and want you to know that I particularly appreciated your respect for the melody. Thanks for sharing your talents with me.” – Frank Vignola (jazz guitarist)
“Wanted to let you know I received your new CD, and it's wonderful!” –Warren Vaché (jazz trumpeter)
“…you sound great! Nice tunes… Sound is good too for a live concert” – Grant Stewart (jazz tenor saxophonist)
“I just want to say that the CD is great. You are such a fine guitarist and your feel is the real deal. Beautiful swingin’ solos and great tunes. You have all of the tradition and great guitar voicings along with a great sense of tradition and style. It is a treat to listen to the recordings and we play them a lot around here." – George Rabbai (jazz trumpeter)
“Your Jerome Kern CD is the best jazz guitar interpretation I have ever heard of his work- hands down. I've heard a lot of interpretations of these songs and you blow them all away!” – John Olsen
“I’ve enjoyed the CD [The Jerome Kern Concert – Live!]. The players are all excellent and your playing is flawless. Great choice of songs and wonderful interpretations” –Bob Wilson
“This CD is by far your best effort to date! I LOVE it!” – Jan
From the liner notes...
For generations, jazz musicians have turned to American Songbook Standards as a source of inspiration. During the early part of the 20th century, the musical compositions of Jerome Kern were crucial in pioneering this uniquely American style of songwriting for stage and screen. Kern (1885-1945) had a special talent for creating beautifully satisfying melodies and his innovative writing style had a profound influence upon other prominent American songwriters of the era.