Ronny Smith – Struttin (ENG review)

Pacific Coast Jazz – Street Date April 19th 2024
Smooth Jazz
Ronny Smith – Struttin (ENG review)

Upon first listen, what strikes you are the similarities with George Benson; evidently, this guitarist has been deeply influenced by this musician. However, Ronny Smith has a much smoother jazz style than Benson, which becomes particularly apparent in the arrangements and the use of choirs. The journey of this artist is quite astonishing. For example, we learn through our colleagues at All About Jazz: “Ronny, who has played as a backing musician for a wide range of artists from different musical schools of thought, including The Marvelettes, Melba Moore, and jazz drummer Bobby Durham. Ronny has performed as a guitarist for various army bands in Europe, Texas, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Delaware, as well as for various university jazz bands, including at the University of Maryland, Morgan State University (MD), and Elizabeth State University (NC). Ronny continues to progress by accumulating achievements and professional experiences in Baltimore, MD – the charming city of Maryland, where Ronny Smith was born. Acquiring his first string instrument, Ronny spent his time playing by ear, while listening to musicians such as Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and George Benson, who influenced him.”
Yes, Ronny Smith is quite fascinating. On this new album, for instance, while the first track sounds like a tribute to Benson and no one can fault him for that, the rest of the album is truly original and it’s a real delight to listen to from start to finish. Accompanied by excellent artists, Ronny is fully aware that the army has brought him a lot, as he states, “I am grateful for all the exposure and opportunities the army has given me to play so many different musical styles.” Ronny Smith’s earliest musical memories find him in his family’s basement, listening, learning, and emulating George Benson’s iconic success, “Breezin'”. From there, he became interested in Larry Carlton, Earl Klugh, The Brecker Brothers, and Joe Pass. Smith cites legendary guitarist Pat Martino, a two-time Grammy Award nominee, as one of his greatest influences, with whom Smith had the chance to take private lessons after an introduction by his jazz guitar teacher, Larry Waldridge, while attending Morgan State University (Baltimore).
It is undoubtedly all these experiences that have shaped this artist in his perpetual quest for perfection. After learning from the greatest, he is now one of them, offering an indispensable album on the jazz scene as well as in the hearts of listeners who will appreciate the sincerity and kindness that emanate from the tracks of this album.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 10th 2024


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