Nate Smith's "Kinfolk 2" out now; new live in the studio video streaming now

Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Saturday, September 18, 2021

One of the foremost faces of the current progressive jazz movement, 2x GRAMMY® Award-nominated drummer/composer/producer Nate Smith releases his new record, Kinfolk 2: See The Birds today via Edition Records. To celebrate, Smith shares a live-in-the-studio performance of the sanguine title track "See The Birds," on which singer Michael Mayo pens and sings optimistic lyrics about following one’s aspirations. The song also features vibraphonist Joel Ross.


Kinfolk 2: See the Birds affirms Nate Smith as one of the most dynamic drummers, insightful composers, and engaging bandleaders of his generation, adept across infinite genres and multiple styles. The album sees Smith joined by an array of diverse fellow artists, including singers Brittany Howard, Amma Whatt, legendary guitarist Vernon Reid, violinist Regina Carter, vibraphonist Ross, rapper Kokayi, and Mayo, and Stokley Williams (of the pioneering R&B band Mint Condition).

Kinfolk 2: See the Birds marks the second installment in a remarkable trilogy charting Smith’s continuing evolution as a musician and composer. While Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere touched upon Smith’s childhood in Chesapeake, VA, and the sounds that he absorbed in his family home, the new album offers an impressionistic portrait of the artist as a young man considering his future in music. Those years saw Smith inspired by the diverse and eclectic riches of Prince and Michael Jackson, hip-hop and the emerging neo-soul movement, as well as music associated with the groundbreaking Black Rock Coalition such as Living Colour (whose trailblazing founder, Vernon Reid, appears on the new album’s menacing “Rambo”).


Kinfolk 2: See The Birds is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2017’s GRAMMY® Award-nominated Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere. The album was heralded earlier in the summer with its first single, the hip-hop centric “Square Wheel,” which finds Smith juggling odd-meter beats in unison with rapper Kokayi’s intrepid rhythmic cadence alongside singer Mayo’s impassioned vocals as well as Brad Allen Williams on guitar, bassist Fima Ephron, saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and Cowherd on keys. A companion music video filmed in the recording studio is streaming on YouTube now.

"Square Wheel" was followed by the release of the gospel-laced ballad "Fly (For Mike)," dedicated to Smith's father, who passed away in 2015 and featuring Howard, with whom Smith collaborated on her Grammy-winning 2019 album, Jaime. The song also features poignant solos from saxophonist Shaw, guitarist Williams, and keyboardist Cowherd.

The third song released from the album, "Altitude," is a soaring mid-tempo instrumental featuring Mayo singing gorgeous wordless melodic passages alongside an alluring motif that gives way to sumptuous solos from Jon Cowherd on piano and vibraphonist Ross, before Mayo returns to the spotlight to showcase his lissome virtuosity. A live-in-the-studio performance video of "Altitude" is streaming now on YouTube.


Kinfolk 2 is no throwback – Smith reconciles his teenaged influences with the modern jazz sensibilities that he’s demonstrated with not just his solo material but as a sideman with such jazz titans as guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Dave Holland, and saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Chris Potter. Recorded mostly in two band sessions – June 2019 at Sear Sound in New York City and February 2020 at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn – the album projects a dreamy, cinematic sensibility as the music ebbs and flows from wistful downtempo excursions to rugged hip-hop beats, hypnotic alt-rock leaning tunes to amorous laments. Kinfolk 2 boasts a slightly different lineup for its core ensemble than its predecessor. Saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and bassist Fima Ephron return, while Smith welcomes guitarist Brad Allen Williams and keyboardist Jon Cowherd to the combo.

For nearly two decades, Nate Smith has been a key piece in reinvigorating the international music scene with his visceral, instinctive, and deep-rooted style of drumming. He holds a diverse and ample résumé, including work with esteemed jazz leading lights such as Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, José James, and Ravi Coltrane, as well as collaborations with Vulfpeck spinoff band The Fearless Flyers, Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes), Emily King, and Van Hunt.