Bass player Dwayne “Smitty” Smith is not really very well known beyond the inner circle where musicians reside. Nonetheless, his debut CD, This Is Me, serves as a great introduction to his talent. If you didn’t know who he was prior to hearing this CD, you will surely remember him by the time the CD ends. There are 10 songs on this CD, most of them original tunes written by Smitty. He effectively plays a number of styles here, easily moving from funky, to smooth, to soulful, and spiritual. There are several headliner musicians on this album helping him out, including Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber, and Will Downing. Smitty also has some good, solid side musicians playing alongside him for this release, including: Brian Simpson, Oscar Seaton, Tony Moore, Tim Gant, Dwight Sills, and Gail Johnson, among others.
“Funky G,” which I presume is named for Gerald Albright, opens the album with a smooth jazz sax groove by Albright, accented by Smitty on the bass. Smitty next covers the Stevie Wonder tune, “Can’t Help It,” (made famous by Michael Jackson.) You get to hear the bass strongly on this one and get a sense of Smitty’s talent. The bass becomes his voice, and it’s supplemented by the background vocals of Will Downing’s silky baritone. In the title song, “This Is Me,” Smitty “formally” introduces himself and takes you into the heart of his playing. Aptly titled, “This Is Me,” this tune really introduces the listener to what he can do on the bass. “Just a Taste” really is just what the title says it is. It is a 57 second teaser. Just when you think the song is going to take off, it’s over. “YLKMS (Your Love Keeps Me Strong)” is an R&B flavored vocal tune, with the vocals being supplied by Tim Kepler. This is standard R&B fare, but nonetheless, fits in with the other songs on this release. “201 Lynwood” features Smitty playing alongside Tim Gant on keys. Less we forget that this is a bass player’s album, Smitty stretches out in the middle of the song and delivers a funky, head bopping solo.
The best songs on this CD are the ones where Smitty brings the bass front and center and really showcases his talent, like “About That,” “Palladium,” and “Little GoGo.” His moving version of the spiritual, “Amazing Grace” is stellar. This song is played as primarily a bass solo piece, and as it is the last song on the album, it leaves the listener with a strong impression of both the musician and the instrument.
This is a bass lover’s CD, and if you’re a fan of the instrument, this is one for your collection.
- Mary Bentley