Back in the early eighties, when I was a young married and my new wife was teaching at a junior high school in a part of Wyoming where tourists never think of stopping, I made the acquaintance of a young man named Jason Smith. He was a junior high student, he lived in my old neighborhood, and my wife caught wind that he was in need of a father figure in his life, his parents being divorced. He was into music (he played drums), so he ended up coming over to our house, and I let him have the run of my stereo and record collection. I remember him being enchanted by Kate Bush, astonished by King Crimson, and he loved my collection of Canterbury bands, all prog rock groups that came from or had roots in Canterbury, England (Camel, Caravan, Kevin Ayers).
When we left on an extended vacation, I hired Jason to feed my fish while we were gone, with all the attendant visiting rights to my records. Judging from the phone messages on our answering machine when we got back, he must have lived over at our place (it was almost reminiscent of Risky Business, but I doubt he took things that far).
My wife and I moved away from Wyoming and ended up in Ohio. I’d hear from Jason occasionally – he was in school in Colorado, then he was heading to LA to seek his fortune as a drummer.
And I guess you could say he found it. He was an original member of Five For Fighting, and worked in a David Bowie tribute band. He played with Enrique Iglesias, and on the film scores for The Italian Job and Solaris. But he remained fascinated by prog rock, and grew into jazz (or maybe he liked jazz from the outset – I don’t remember), and toughed it out through the process of recording some demos, finding a producer, putting together a band, and hitting the studio.
In any event, after a lot of hustling and hard work, Jason’s first album was released a couple of months ago on Alternity Records, a label with a foot in both the Jazz and Prog camps. It’s called Think Like This, and is a collection of Jason’s jazz-fusion original compositions and covers. He’s playing in an area of jazz that I happen to like but have neglected in favor of Pat Metheny, so it’s great to have his recording in my hands.
So this is my shameless plug for music by the kid that used to come over and feed my fish. I’m really proud of Jason and his record, as much as a sort of godfather-thrice-removed can be. I’m pleased that he’s gotten this far, and maybe a little smug over the fact that maybe I helped broaden his horizons a little (even if, as is said in Raising Arizona, he can’t really remember how they got broadened).
Check him out.
Jason Smith, Think Like This