Mike Smith Woodwind Orchestra | Close Enough for Love

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Jazz: Big Band Easy Listening: Ballads Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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Close Enough for Love

by Mike Smith Woodwind Orchestra

Woodwind Jazz Orchestra featuring vocal, flute, and saxophone solos. Recording is dedicated to the memory of Frank Sinatra Jr. With Special guest Kurt Elling, Julian Smith, and Joel Spencer.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Close Enough for Love (feat. Kurt Elling, Julian Smith & Joel Spencer)
5:26 $0.99
2. I Worship You
5:55 $0.99
3. So What (feat. Joel Spencer)
8:22 $0.99
4. Randi (feat. Julian Smith & Joel Spencer)
4:09 $0.99
5. Lonely Beat (feat. Joel Spencer)
6:51 $0.99
6. Where Do You Start
7:01 $0.99
7. Sunset and the Mockingbird
5:00 $0.99
8. Theme from the Sandpiper / The Shadow of Your Smile (feat. Kurt Elling & Joel Spencer)
5:36 $0.99
9. Only the Lonely
4:23 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Don Costa, Neil Hefti, Johnny Mandel, Quincy Jones, Billy Beyers,
Gordon Jenkins. These were the main contributors to the oustanding library I spent almost
thirty-five years performing as lead alto in the Sinatra Orchestra. Sitting in the middle of
that astounding wall of sound provided the most rigorous, expansive schooling in voice
leading, counterpoint, and harmonic substitutions any musician could receive. It shaped
me, as a player and as a writer. That and my long enduring friendship with Frank Sinatra, Jr.,
who was the initial catalyst and first producer for this project. It was Frank who came up
with the idea of a woodwind orchestra recording, who helped me select material, and
planned to sing on a few numbers. It was Frank who hipped me to two revelatory Mercury
recordings by TV and film composer Pete Rugolo: ”An Adventure in Sound--Reeds,” and
“10 Saxophones and 2 Basses.” Those recordings opened my eyes (and ears) to the full
potential of a woodwind orchestra. When Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone, he
envisioned an instrument capable of playing with the delicacy of woodwinds, as well as
the power of a brass section. This was ever on my mind as I re-imagined the classic
arrangements on this recording using nothing but the voices and colors of woodwinds--
soprano saxophones like trumpets, baritones as trombones, flutes and clarinets in the role
of the string section, bass and contrabass clarinets to put a bottom on the ensemble.
There is classic Sinatra material here, of course; also, an arrangement of Phil Woods’
“Randi,” Oliver Nelson’s treatment, for Cannonball Adderley, of Cole Porter’s “I Worship You,”
and “So What” by Miles Davis, transcribed as an orchestration in itself, with Miles’ solo on
soprano sax, Paul Chambers’ walking bass on bass clarinet, and Bill Evans’ piano solo
realized through flutes and clarinets. Bill Rogers, one of Sinatra‘s orchestrators left me some
sketches for the Shadow of your Smile and Where do you Start. I’d completed three songs
under Frank’s direction before his untimely passing in March of 2016. My close friend
Kurt Elling took time from his busy schedule to lend his beautiful baritone instrument to the
title track, as well as the last chorus of “The Shadow of Your Smile.” My son Julian Smith plays
bass on two tracks; my good friend, golfing buddy, and amazing musician Joel Spencer added
percussion to five of the arrangements. This is a ballads record. It’s not meant to be sad, just a
reflection of where I’m at as a performer, writer, human. Thanks, Frank, for the great idea.
Mike Smith

With his latest release Close Enough for Love, the virtuoso woodwind instrumentalist
Mike Smith has created a memorable musical synthesis formed by a perfect storm of
harmonic and melodic elements. Having spent more than three decades as lead alto of
the Frank Sinatra Orchestra, Mike was surrounded with charts written by the greatest
arrangers in the music business and performed by perhaps the greatest musical storyteller
in history, Frank Sinatra. He also collaborated for many years with another great musical
storyteller, Frank Sinatra Jr., whose imense musical stature and superb vocal artistry are
much too often overlooked. These influences are omnipresent in Mike’s vocal approach to
everything he plays. Anyone who listens to jazz knows about Mike’s soulful and unique
improvisatory brilliance on the alto sax, and this is tastefully on display in
Close Enough for Love. But what is most intriguing about this CD are Smith’s masterful
orchestrations of a collection of nine of Frank Jr.’s favorite from the songbook. The echoes
of Nelson Riddle, Johnny Mandel, Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones, Billy Byers, Don Costa,
Billy May, and Neil Hefti are undeniable and filtered through Smith’s creative and
immensely satisfying arrangements for ten woodwinds. A full range of musical color and
timbre are portrayed, from the tessitura of the piccolo down to the lowest depths of the
contrabass clarinet. Even more remarkable is that Smith has performed each of the parts
himelf (at times as many as twenty-five different parts). This is a highly personal and
introspective recording, and a fitting tribute to the memory of Mike’s best friend and
confidant, Frank Sinatra Jr., who was the inspiration behind this recording from the initial
concept. There is love, friendship, admiration, melancholy, and celebration in every phrase.
Mike’s creative abilities and immense talents as a solo performer, ensemble player, arranger,
recording engineer, producer, and creative force are front and center. So sit back and
enjoy Mike’s touching musical homage, dedicated to a great musician, singer, mentor, and
friend -- Frank Sinatra Jr.

Mitchell Estrin



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