Songs of Fascination 5: "Soho" by Steve Smith and Vital Information

  • Posted on: 27 January 2016
  • By: sheldonkreger

Songs of Fascination Series

This series is an exploration of songs which at once caught my attention, and never let go. These are the songs I listen to on repeat; that I tear apart phrase by phrase; that I memorize line by line. If you are curious about my taste in music, this is the series you are looking for.

The Song

"Soho" is one of those sly jazz tunes that makes your head bop up and down. You feel cool listening to this song, and that's OK. You ARE cooler when you listen to this song. It has the classic shuffled clang-a-lang ride cymbal pattern on top of quarter note walking on electric bass (Baron Browne).

One interesting fact about this song is that it is one of my earliest jazz/fusion influences; I found it when I was 17 or 18, after watching a preview for Steve Smith's DVD. It's loaded with great songs and flows well from beginning to end. There is no way to overstate the quality of the recording. It's one of my favorites to use as a demo when I try out new headphone equipment. Smith's Sonor drums have the perfect amount of sustain and the attack is very defined without being slappy. The kick drum is so clear that I can actually hear when Smith plays with an open vs closed foot technique. It is very rare that you hear all of the tom drums mixed in balance with the rest of the drum kit - let alone in alignment with the other instruments like guitar and bass.

Tonight, this song jumped into my head out of nowhere, after years of not listening to the album. I couldn't even remember the name of it (but once I saw the track list I guessed it on the first try).

I suppose I should mention the name of the album which is "Come On In", recorded in 2004. Looking back, I believe this album was highly influential in my decision to pursue more advanced drumming. It really opened me to the world of modern jazz/fusion music, and was certainly one of the first albums I heard in the genre.

The true highlight of this particular song is Frank Gambale's solo. He uses a unique selection of notes in the beginning, it's really indescribable for a drummer like myself. You also get a nice feature of some sweeps, which Gambale is well known for. The speed and precision Gambale wields is not often seen in the jazz fusion world.

Keyboards and accordion is performed by Tom Coster. Now that I'm thinking about it, I really ought to explore this guy's discography, because his performance on the album is terrific.

Steve Smith