Jay is for jazz

Blistering jazz pianist Jay Smith brings his trio of talented artists to the Cellar Door on Jan. 23

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – Jay is for jazz. 

Jazz pianist Jay Smith has become a fixture in the Central Valley music scene by bringing together Valley grown musicians and Grammy nominated talent and fusing together everything from jazz to pop under the name Jay Smith Group. 

As an alumnus of Fresno City College and California State University Bakersfield and where he earned his associates and bachelor’s degree in the arts, Jay has remained relevant in the ever changing landscape of music by never letting his audiences get comfortable. Teaching has kept Jay current. He was the lead instructor at the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop for first four years. He’s been teaching at Nick Rail Music Bakersfield since the store opened in 2009. He has been on several radio stations and TV stations including Bakersfield’s channels 17, 23, 29/58, The Michael Nayt Show, Brighthouse Networks, and 107.1 FM KRAB, Fresno’s 90.7 KSFR where he had his own radio show for 5 years.

Jay has opened up for groups and musicians such as jazz trumpeter Carl Saunders, Latin jazz singer Poncho Sanchez, Grammy Award winning saxophonist Jeff Coffin, percussion pioneer Clayton Cameron. He has worked with the best fusion groups and performers such as jazz group Kelulu, The Fresno Philharmonic, guitar instructor Mike Dana, Latin rock band Velorio, and violinist Patrick Contreras to name a few.

Two of his bands (Jay Smith Trio and Jay Smith Group and Mento Buru) are selected as Featured Artists on the Global Level on Reverbnation.com. The Jay Smith Trio flows with the times featuring a variety of players including Cesareo Garasa, Paul Perez, Jay Jay Hicks, Fernando Montoya, Steve Eisen, and Patrick Contreras to name a few. The trio featuring Jay on piano/synthesize/keyboard, Montoya on bass and Garasa on drums, will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23 at The Cellar Door in downtown Visalia. The group will likely play songs from Jay’s fourth album The Trio Showed Up, a live album that Smith produced when the band was performing trio dates throughout 2018 and 2019 with Montoya and Garasa. Admission is $10. 

Another of his current projects include the Jay Smith Group with Mento Buru, a Valley rock band voted the best band of 2018 by Bakersfield Magazine.

His first album, Unashamed Portrayal, (available now on iTunes and 30 other retailers) features Grammy Nominated guitarist Andre Bush, saxophonist Chris Nguyen, trombonist Joe Vazquez, trumpeter Mark Manda, drummer Jonathan Weinmann, percussionist Jorge Nunzio Urbina and Montoya on acoustic and electric bass and Hicks on eight-string bass. It’s been featured on internet music hub All About Jazz as their download of the day.

Smith’s second record, Too Many Notes, was titled by his fans based on his reputation for a blisteringly fast playing style. Patrick Contreras on electric violin, Jay Jay Hicks on 8 string bass, Cesareo Garasa on drums, Fernando Montoya on electric bass, Gary Rink on bass, Jonathan Weinmann on drums, and Marlon Mackey on vocals.

Smith’s third album Just Stop encompasses the time the group spent with Marlon Mackey (vocals) featuring Paul Perez (sax), Justin Kirk on (trombone), Patrick Contreras (violin), Cesareo Garasa (drums), Fernando Montoya (bass), Caleb Moore (bass on “I’m Yours”), Salvador Galindo (guitar on “Torture”) James Russell (auxiliary sax on “Have I Told You”), and Jay Smith (keys).

For more information on the band, visit jaysmithgroup.com. 

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