Fraser Smith Quartet

'Tip Top!' Album Launch

Event Has Passed

Last Show: Tuesday 18 th April 2023

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

Fraser Smith launches his debut album on Ubuntu Music. Hard-bop inspired original tunes are led by Smith's weighty tenor sax playing. A concert for jazz lovers, rooted firmly in the traditions of the bebop idiom. Fraser and band give a nod to bygone legends of the music, whilst retaining a 'youthful enthusiasm born of the 21st Century' Ian Mann, Jazz Man. Expect everything from the up tempo to the hard swinging, via soulful ballad as Fraser plays tribute to his influences. In his improvisations you'll hear inspiration from Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet and unsung hero of the tenor sax Wardell Gray.

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"Smith wallows in that funky Gene Ammons/Ike Quebec sound"

Bebop Spoken Here

Tip Top! is the current stop-off-point in the musical journey/career of Fraser Smith. Two decades of study and scholarship have informed this album of original material. Wholly inspired by the music and artists of the late bebop to early hard bop periods, Fraser pays tribute to his heroes with ten tracks stylistically dedicated to the jazz masters of the mid-twentieth century.

Honing in on swing and bebop, Fraser then continued to learn the craft the old way. Through thousands of hours on and off stage he listened and emulated to inform and enrich his own sound. The result is a style that has been described as firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. Contrary to many of his contemporaries he takes prominent influence from the likes of Mobley, Dexter, Illinois Jacquet and unsung hero of the Tenor Wardell Gray (with a track on the album written in dedication).

Fraser has worked professionally for the last 12 years, playing as far away as Mexico and China, and everywhere in between with a whole range of projects and bands. He’s led his own group at world famous Ronnie Scott’s numerous times and is a regular on the UK jazz club scene.

Tip Top! was an effort to solidify and record some of the musical experiences Fraser was having. With jazz being transient in its nature, gigs come and go. The vibrant and world class ‘straight ahead’ London scene is happening every night and without stopping to take note, it can pass one by. For this recording Fraser assembled a top band of musicians whom he was playing with on-the-fly on a regular basis in different set-ups and wrote music specifically for the group, to solidify the

The band features some of London’s finest including Rob Barron (Benny Golson, Phil Woods) Steve Brown (Scott Hamilton, Barry Harris) and Simon Read (Adrian Cox). This project is a stylistic meeting of minds, with all four members coming together to play music of the era they love.

What started out as an effort to capture Fraser’s current experience of the London live jazz scene, became an amalgamation of things. It now stands as a tribute to his heroes, a small gesture in return for countless hours of music and enjoyment that the original creators themselves sacrificed everything to offer. And finally, it stands up as an album in its own right, albeit highly stylised. A contribution to the huge tapestry of musicians today striving to keep modern jazz alive, playing the music to the best of their capacity in honour of their idols.

Band Line Up

Fraser Smith (tenor sax)

Rob Barron (piano)

Steve Brown (drums)

Simon Read (bass)