Smitty: Yes. How about that, huh?
PH: I think, yeah, I mean, that’s three in a row. That’s quite good.
Smitty: Man oh man, yeah.
PH: Yeah, I know, I can’t complain, really. I’m just thinking about it now. There was “Puerto Banus” and then “Serene” and then “Free as the Wind,” so that’s three number ones in a row. Yeah, it’s great.
Smitty: Wow, man.
PH: What more can I say? How happier can I be?
Smitty: I know, man. You’re on a roll. And I have gotten so many requests to bring you onto Jazz Monthly….
Smitty: .…because of the music that everyone has just totally enjoyed over the years, and when I mentioned to some people that we were gonna do this interview, they were so excited, they said “Well, let me know when it’s on because I’ve got to read it. He’s just my favorite musician.” So you’ve got some very, very loyal fans out there, myself included.
PH: Thanks. Oh, it’s great to know. I mean, if the one thing I guess I do…I think I try and reflect that because, I mean, the one sort of comment I’ve had over the years, which is the most pleasing for me, I think, is the fact that they say, well, I don’t put any throwaway tracks on in there. You know, like some people will do three tracks and then the rest are filler.
PH: But I’ve never ever done that and when I’ve been into a shop before and someone that didn’t even know who I was and I’ve watched them buy all my albums, and I said to myself, wow, and in the end I had to go “May I ask you….you’ve bought the whole lot there of II, III, IV, V,” and this guy said “Well, I’ve heard the first one and you don’t do any fillers, so I know it’s gonna be all right” and I thought, wow, that’s trust, isn’t it, really?
Smitty: Yes, and what a great reputation to have.
PH: Yeah, it’s very nice. But I would never sort of compromise and just try and get an album out in time or whatever. If it wasn’t ready, then I would say “Right now we won’t put it out yet.”
PH: And I think people respect that.
Smitty: They totally respect that, I know I do, and I just love putting your records on and just letting them play. You don’t have to hit random or whatever. Just let it play.
PH: I know, there was one funny one, though, as I was telling you about the rap song. We had one crazy guy who said “Is there anywhere I could buy this album without the rap song on it?”
PH: And the fact was, I was gonna sort of…I was gonna e-mail him back but I thought, no, it’s not worth it because it was Track 13. It was a free track anyway.
PH: And I just felt like saying “Do you not know how to press stop?”
PH: “Do you not know how to sort of say ‘Don’t play Track 13’ if you really hate it?” And yet the funny thing is I had other people say that they thought it was great. So there you go. It’s what keeps me interested in the music business.
Smitty: Yes indeed, my friend, and you know, Track 4, “Free as the Wind,” that is such a groove song. You’ve got such a great melody there, a great groove, and then that sax comes in and it’s just off the chain! I love that track.
PH: Thank you. So your favorite track on the album is “World in Action,” is it?
Smitty: “World in Action,” yes, that’s my song. I wish it were 20 minutes long.
PH: Okay, great.
Smitty: And you were talking about not having any fillers. Every song on this new record could go to radio; every song on here could be played in a club. It’s a very complete album of great music.
PH: Thank you. Anymore, you know, I can’t take anymore good comments like that.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Oh, man. Well, you know, there’s one song on here, and I think it is “Free as the Wind,” sort of reminds me a little bit of ….
PH: Let me stop you. Kool & the Gang?
Smitty: A little bit, yeah.
PH: (Laughs). Do you mean “The Summer of Madness Breakdown”?
PH: Well, that’s what I grew up on. I mean, I grew up on, soulwise, Kool & the Gang, you know, the early stuff.
Smitty: “Hollywood Swingers.”
PH: Yeah, exactly. That’s like the stuff I listened to. Lonnie Liston Smith….
PH: So I guess I’ve been molded in that sort of thing, but also I used to listen to pop rock like America.
PH: Because obviously we did a version of “Ventura Highway.”
PH: So I have got quite a diverse sort of musical background influence, I guess. I covered “Ventura Highway” because I wanted to do something that I could make a bit more uptempo, but I’m covered out now, I think. I’ll do the occasional cover.
PH: But I think there are so many covers in Smooth Jazz now.
Smitty: Oh, there’s a ton.
Smitty: Yeah, but this record just has everything and I love the album cover. (Both laughing.)
PH: That’s Les’ creation.
Smitty: I thought so. Well, we’ll have to give him some props on that one because, oh, what a great album cover.