All posts by jim yanda

Paul Smoker

Thoughts and reflections on the celebration of Paul Smoker’s life…

A memory from Brad Goode:

I’m saddened to hear of Paul Smoker’s passing. He was a great artist, trumpeter and educator, and a very important musical influence in my life.
During the late 1980’s, drummer Damon Short began bringing Paul to Chicago from Iowa, where they often played together at the Get Me High Jazz Club, The Green Mill and the Bop Shop. I was told that Paul was a great player, and that I would really appreciate him, but I was unprepared for meeting and hearing someone who would change my whole philosophy of improvisation.
Paul’s approach embraced all aspects of his musical background. He had started out as a Dixieland player, played in brass quintets, big bands, and for a brief period he flirted with a career in commercial music in New York, studying with Doc Severinsen. He found his perfect setting later in life, as a creative improviser.

When he performed, he reached all the way down and went for total self-expression, 100 % of the time. He played so hard and long, shaking and drenched with sweat, that it often appeared his head would explode. What emerged was a presentation that was totally personal, using every sound and texture he could find. Nothing was off-limits, and he used this open approach on material from Trad tunes and ballads to his own compositions and total improvisations.

We became good friends, and developed a kind of mutual appreciation. He came to hear me, I attended all of his Chicago gigs, and we would often sit-in together. I admired his ability to stand alone and apart, with total conviction to his unique approach. At the time we met, I was very young, and I had been struggling to figure out how I fit in to the cliquish world of Jazz styles. After hearing Paul, and hanging out with him, I began to understand that my only job as an improviser was to be myself, and to not worry about such trivial matters as style.

The photo here was taken in the 1990’s at the “Underground Fest” in Chicago; we were both to appear with our own groups on the same evening. Earlier that night, we had a very deep conversation about all of this stuff. I expressed to Paul that I was having a hard time with all of this stylistic rigidity, etc. Just before the music began, Paul said, “ When they announce my trio, you go up there in my place and play a free set, and then I’ll play a straight-ahead set with your band. That’ll really mess them up!” That’s exactly what we did, and you can see from the looks on our faces how much fun we had with it.

Do yourself a favor and check out Paul’s great recordings. As one critic said, “he seems to come from everyplace at the same time.”

Here’s the facebook link for this:

november music 2023

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for supporting live music!
I’m thrilled to be playing four-night tour with two bands in three cities.
We look forward to seeing you out there!

Yours in music,

Thursday November 9, 7pm

Regional Cookin’ at The Tavern

Jim Yanda – guitar  |  Drew Gress – bass  |  Phil Haynes – drums
The Tavern Stone Ridge
3978 Atwood Rd
Stone Ridge, NY 12484-5463
The Tavern on Instagram

Friday November 10, 8pm

Regional Cookin’ at The Bop Shop
Bop Shop Records
1460 Monroe Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618

Saturday November 11, 8pm

Empathy Gene at The Bop Shop

Herb Robertson – trumpet, etc  |  Jim Yanda – guitar  |  Phil Haynes – drums
Bop Shop Records
1460 Monroe Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618

Sunday November 12, 8pm

Empathy Gene at Tubby’s
Tubby’s Kingston586 Broadway
Kingston, NY 12401
Clifford Allen’s Instagram post about the gig.

steinbeck on jazz musicians

I know of no group [apart from jazz musicians] which has such direction in work. They aim at excellence and apparently at nothing else. They are hard to buy and if bought they either backslide into honesty or lose the respect of their peers. And this is a loss that terrifies them. In any other field of American life, great rewards can be used to cover a loss of honesty, but not with jazz players — a slip is known and recognized instantly. And further, they do not compare with those in other professions. Let a filthy kid, unknown, unheard of and unbacked sit in — and if he can do it — he is recognized and accepted instantly. Do you know of any other field where this is true? And this curious search for and treasuring of excellence is the one thing that has never been said of them nor written of them.

– John Steinbeck

shaw on the joy of life

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
― George Bernard Shaw