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Paul Smoker

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October 2014 interview with Paul Smoker by Rick Holland (PDF)


“Paul is an important trumpeter because he is one of the first to combine an interest in experimental new music with killer jazz and big-band chops.  For that reason he has been an inspiration to us all…  I'll always be thankful for Paul Smoker's vision and his generosity in sharing it with me.” — Dave Douglas


“The CDs has arrived last night, safe and sound.  The music is truly fantastic and I had no doubt about it! … Frankly, I consider you as the best trumpet player around that I’ve ever listened to.”

— Igor Voronenko


“But let's not forget about my dear friend, Paul Smoker! He's 10 years older than me and he's influencing players left and right also. I've had the great pleasure of blowing next to him on the bandstand and his power made me play at a higher level immediately. He is someone to be reckoned with. He's really the only trumpet player I know who can send me back to the practice room! That's scary. Paul Smoker can and will deflate anyone's ego… believe me!”

— Herb Robertson in an interview at OneFinalNote


“What Paul Smoker produced on his horn was unheard of in these latitudes; his complete command of his instrument allowed him to play whatever extravaganza he would think of, harmonically as well as in terms of dynamics. Styles, modes and techniques of every era of the history of music -- Baroque and Bebop, Structuralism and Storyville, Blues and Berio...To the widely discussed question about the future development of the jazz trumpet, Paul Smoker's musical concept could definitely constitute a far-reaching answer.” — Jazz Podium


“He carries a history of the music in his horn. Imagine an amalgam of Armstrong's bravura, Dizzy's go-for-broke gumption, Cootie's plunger-talk, Cherry's/Bowie's raggedy-ass attack, and the exhibitionism of a high-note specialist. He seems to come from everyplace at the same time.” — Downbeat


“…the guitar sets the trumpet remarkably well, and Smoker is always up to something interesting. A-” — Tom Hull on Landings



A “…modern take on jazz without relinquishing tradition, amplified by its often adventurous openness to structural development of the themes… intense and precise…” — Stef, FreeJazzBlog on Landings



“…they treat the audience, and us, to their own personal and idiosyncratic versions of some standards, such as "My Funny Valentine" and "Summertime". And if you think these great compositions have been played to death already, think again, because despite - or thanks to - the limited line-up, they infuse the standards with a new sense of drama and dynamics, and true moments of fun.  There is lots to be enjoyed here, and lots to be impressed by.” — Stef, FreeJazzBlog on It Might Be Spring



“Take this fantastic albums by three technical wizards : Paul Smoker on trumpet, Steve Salerno on guitar and Phil Haynes on drums. All three musicians have extensive track records, are as comfortable in classical as in traditional jazz as in free form, have a great warm tone, an adventurous spirit and an incredible sense of pulse.

“Put them together…and the iconic reference to Chet Baker on the cover picture is no coincidence, but what they do with is something else  - it swings, it sings, it chills and it pops. The trio move boundaries throughout, changing jazz styles as they see fit, pushing the tradition into unheard areas, without actually losing the connection. And on top of it all ... the three musicians have great fun (despite their cool).

“If free jazz ever sounded cool, here is your treat ... don't miss it! Enjoyable from the very first to the very last second.”

— Stef, FreeJazzBlog on Cool Lives


Feature article by Ron Netsky in City Newspaper (Rochester)


Reviews of Landings and It Might Be Spring by Tom Hull


Preview of 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival performance


Review of Cool Lives


Review of Large Music 1 & 2 in JazzTimes by Harvey Pekar


Review of Genuine Fables


Review of Urban Rumination (Scott R. Looney)


Review of Mirabile Dictu


Preview of a 1993 Allentown, PA performance


Preview of a 1988 Chicago performance