KJAZZ Radio UK is very proud to present Roger Smith, keyboardist and vocalist for the world famous “Tower Of Power“. For this profile we are going to focus primarily on Roger’s solo career which is producing great grooves including the CD 360 which Roger has shared with KJAZZ Radio UK for you the listener. Roger’s background of people he has worked with reads like a Who’s Who of Smooth Jazz, Jazz & R&B. Roger has been nominated for two Jazz Grammys. Radio & Records recognized Roger as their “Breakout Artist of the Year” in 1999. Roger has also collaborated with Chieli Minucci and George Junda of Special EFX.
When KJAZZ Radio UK auditioned Roger’s CD 360 we were stunned at the diversity of songs. There are songs like “Fiesta” with a distinct Latino or Brazilian party feel similar to Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. Then there is “Armadillo”, a groove you can lose yourself in. The song starts out uptempo funky and draws you in more and more until you feel like you’re involved performing with the band. Listened to while driving it made one forget the road (probably not a good thing) and start hammering out the vibe on the steering wheel. Now those songs don’t come along every day. Roger Smith – 360 spans from the funky #1 hit “Off The Hook” to the rich jazz ballad “Rachael’s Dream” and finishes with a soul-stirring gospel anthem “Put Your Faith In Me”, penned by Ben Sidran and Ricky Peterson. 360 also features the talents of DAVE KOZ and Motown legends THE TEMPTATIONS, not to mention the inimitable horns from TOWER OF POWER,
Roger began playing the piano as a child and received musical training at a young age. Training coupled with a natural born talent led to his further musical education in church but because of creative limitations he lost interest. Childhood and luck introduced Roger to the Hammond organ and legendary jazz organist Jimmy McGriff. Jimmy McGriff intorduced Roger to the Hammond B-3 organ. Through blues songs, “Down The Road A Piece” and “Little Red Rooster”. This early experience had a profound life changing musical effect on Roger experiences he draws on to this day not only in his solo career but with ‘Tower of Power’. At 20 years of age and living in Austin, Texas Roger formed “Blind Mellon”. Band mates were a young Eric Johnson on guitar, Roscoe Beck on bass. In 1971, Roger was given an opportunity to fill in on Freddie King’s band. This led to introductions and work with many other artists such as Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Louden Wainwright III.Later in life after moving to California, Roger started going to see Tower of Power. Roger was already a member of “Sunbear” the house band for “Soul Train“. Roger refers to this point in his career as being a utility player as he was on the road with many artists including Harvey Mandel, Jeff Beck, Jan Hammer and Gladys Knight working a variety of situations as a keyboardist. Roger became friends with Norbert Stachel, Tower of Power’s lead tenor sax player at that time and when Tower of Power was making some personnel changes, Norbert suggested Roger Smith, and as a result, he has been with Tower Of Power ever since. Roger gets to travel the world touring with the band but still carves out time for his solo work. Why not take a break with Roger and celebrate this talented artists solo work and check out the reason he is the main man on Keys for Tower Of Power.
Comments and what others are saying about Roger Smith.
Roger Smith is one of a select few true masters of the Hammond B3. He brought the organ back to Tower of Power, and all of his solo albums are killer. This one is the best yet! Listen to this in your car, and you will always take the long way home. – Brian
…Great piano arrangements by one of the great jazz piano artist. He does not disappoint.- Perry Bond
This is upbeat jazz, pure and simple. It may be labeled as Smooth Jazz, but there is nothing boring about it, at least like a lot of the stuff on our local Smooth Jazz station. Roger keeps the pace moving nicely throughout, and man, can he tinkle those ivories! – Amazon Reviewer
Syncopation – at it’s best. Take Scott Joplin from the world of ragtime and move him into the world of modern jazz – and you have Roger Smith. I love this so much I sent it to everyone in my family. I don’t think it’s possible to listen and not participate somehow – from air piano when you’re by yourself to at least a little toe tapping under the table when you’re in a crowd. – Steve Kraner