Anthony Smith eases up on piano, reinvents himself in New York

Deep into the vibes

Anthony Smith
  • Anthony Smith

No, not a CD-release party, although jazz music will be played live. It’s a book-signing party, the author of which is central to the band. Anthony Smith’s back in town after four years in New York. Some may remember him as keyboardist in a red-hot pop/rock band called the Mighty Untouchables. Or, as a straight-ahead jazz pianist. Smith says he reinvented himself while in New York.

The Anthony Smith Vibraphone Quartet: "26-2" (Live at Subculture NYC)

“I put the focus on the vibraphone,” he says by phone. He and his wife and kids live near Lake Murray now. “I was a pianist who dabbled in the vibes.” Now, he says it’s the other way around.

Past Event

Masters of the Vibes

Then, there’s the book: Masters of the Vibes is conversations Smith’s had with several major vibraphonists. “The book covers so much ground historically and culturally, too,” he explains. I wonder about his New York experience. Was it like they all say — that you gotta go there to make or break? “No. I didn’t have the experience of a 22-year-old trying to make it in the jazz world.” In truth, he says the East Coast move was because his wife got a killer job there. “I was already established as a musician.”

But, the Big Apple: “It was a cool situation for me to develop a whole new network. And I got to play with world-class guys.” Some of them ended up in his book. And it follows that music by the artists profiled will be showcased, with Carlos Cuevas on piano, drummer Fernando Gomez, and bassist Mackenzie Leighton.

Smith, 48, teaches jazz studies at SDSU. And he is no stranger to publishing. A few years ago he wrote and released The Lizard Stays in the Cage. The book is 700+ pages about his life as a touring musician. It is half again as much funny as anything by Carl Hiaasen. “I still have copies available, if anybody wants one.”

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