Type your paragraph here.
Frank Ball & Jon Smith
From The Tri-Parish Times Gumbo by Eric Besson:
Submerged in Smooth Jazz Pleasures
Separately, Frank Ball and Jon Smith chased the dream. They sought to make it Big in the music business as headliners, an achievement they and other musicians of the record-label era regarded as flowing through California.As a relatively newly formed duo, Ball and Smith are content now with staying in Houma and with taking it slow. But their ambition remains as they still seek arrival to an idyllic place just around the bend.“As a young musician, I wanted to make it big in the music business,”Ball said, with Smith punctuating each sentence with agreements like “Sure,” “That’s right,” or“No” in quick succession. “Move to California and make it big. That’s not important me anymore,it really isn’t. It’s more important to me to be satisfied with what I’m hearing than to try to gain (notoriety).”
Smith, of course, is the Grammy-Award winning,69-year-old Jon R. Smith, the journeyman tenor sax player who recorded with Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Toto, Peter Maffay,the Doobie Brothers, Randy Newman, Dr.John, Sonny Landreth, C.J. Chenier and many more artists over a nearly 30-year span. The Jeanerette native moved back to New Orleans,incidentally, right before he was displaced by Hurricane Katrina.Smith then spent a lot of time in Dallas,Texas, and released in 2010 “Over Saxed,” a solo album with two originals amid a host of reinterpreted rhythm and blues hits. He admits that he fell into depression in Dallas, and said he moved back to south Louisiana this year to focus on fishing and keeping his reed sharp.
Frank Ball, now 64, also detoured from south Louisiana, where he returned in 2008. He started playing professionally in Bayou State nightclubs at 14 years old and, coincidentally,was one of two musicians hired to replace Smith when he departed the New Orleans based,White Trash-spin off The Jackson Brewing Company. Ball later moved to California,where he played incessantly with dance bands and original projects.Upon his return, Ball introduced Louisiana audiences to his “Sazerac.” He mostly played as a one-man band, strumming ahead of backing tracks produced by himself, friends and elsewhere, though he has partnered with other area musicians at times. The backing music allows him to accent the tunes as he sees fit while fostering a fuller sound and not impeding his ability to improvise, he said; it has carried over into his shows with Smith.The duo, familiar with each other’s talents,formed earlier this year through a mutualacquaintance.“We kind of made a decision that we wouldbe as true to ourselves as we can,” Ball said.“We like the music we play a lot. It doesn’t have the broadest appeal, so it’s a little bit of a tough battle here in a small town like Houma.”“We want to do what we want to do,” Smith said. “We don’t want to play the stuff we don’t want to play anymore. … My head is not where it was when I was 25, 30 years old, wanting to run in the rat race. I’m just looking to lay back and relax and play with a guy I’m compatible with and who is compatible with me. We get along, we have a good time and there’s never no bulls--t. And we just play. That’s what it’s about. I’m too damn old to do anything else bu thave fun now.”Should Ball and Smith decide to hitch their wagons to an existing band or venture into forming a full-fledged pop super group, they would have their share of takers. Each is uniquely talented and well respected by local musicians. Frank Ball and Grammy Award-winning Jon Smith, accomplished individual musicians, perform.The duo, which formed earlier this year, plays three nights a week, sometimes diving into smooth jazz and sometimes show casing their interpretations of modern hits.Submerged in smooth jazz pleasures. As front men or sidemen they could contribute to a group at least capable of generating local and regional popularity.But they show no inclination of wanting todo so. In fact, the opposite may be true. A long term goal they profess is the formation of a full band of their ilk, which would open the door to smooth-jazz performances at festivals and other large gigs.
A market would first need to prove itself, and therein lies the duo’s primary concern.An awareness of a persistent artistic dilemma is evident in the songs they play, the way they talk about their goals and in the working title of a Ball-written tune, “Tiger Walk”: To what extent should they cop to the sometimes-whimsical,comfort-seeking pleasures of an audience versus playing and writing in a manner that gives them the most satisfaction? Popularity and self-fulfillment are often at odds.“If we had our own way, we would probablysink pretty deep into some serious jazz ballads,but you’ve got to play something with a beat init to keep an audience like this hanging around,keep them interested,” Ball said. “We try to mix it up as much as we can, but we try to put our own twist on everything that we do.”One audience may hear, for example: “We’ve got a song. It’s called ‘Happy.’” And then Smith’s saxophone stands in for Pharrell’s lead vocals. It is essentially an extended solo,punchy, polished and sometimes veering, all inline with a tune familiar to everyone. Smith’s sax and Ball’s guitar trade verses in their performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” They dial up Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” but no before Smith pulls out his soprano sax; ensuing is a mostly-instrumental version of the song that could charm a snake. Familiarity is granted to fans of the HBO hit series “The Sopranos”when the twosome navigates the show’s them esong.“Tiger Walk” was once “Cougar Walk,” but there are no cougars on the Louisiana State University campus, yet the song may once again be called “Cougar Walk.” It is one of Ball’s original tracks and part of the duo’s continuing process to release a studio album almost solely comprised of original work, which via online channels would be marketed to national and international fans of the genre. That project is short-term goal No. 2, behind ongoing work to release a live album, Ball said.And then comes “101 Eastbound,” a song only familiar to people who fall into the jazz niche. The Fourplay tune is 23 years old and on an album sold more than 1 million times in the U.S., but it is foreign to many who Ball and Jones play for locally.Although Ball will step up to the microphone at times, the pair mostly allows its instruments to do the crooning. “I was singing a lot (before the duo), but when you’ve got a guy like Jon in the band, it doesn’t make much sense for me to be singing,” Ball said.Improvisation and an emphasis on the jazz guitar and saxophone is why they remain attracted to the genre.“Sometimes we talk nice to each other, and sometimes we talk dirty to each other,” Smith said. Whether they are aligned or slightly off in their measures, their sounds are flexible andspontaneous.And spontaneity, no matter its framework, incubates truth!
**Hey Jon, Listened to the CD and it sounds great! Both you and Frank. Please pass that on to him. Hope to see you soon.
Love, John Tropea
**Please tell Frank how much I like his playing. I hope to meet him soon and see you soon too. John Tropea (John Tropea is a renowned guitarist and session player in New York)
**Man – playing with you and Jon is spiritual--- thanx for the other day. Billy WILLIAM A. STARK
** "Thank you Frank for making our evening so memorable" Miles and Melanie Knoblock Frank,
** "If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it". Duke Orsino
** We appreciate your coming & providing entertainment & sharing in this momentous celebration. Everyone commented on your versatile talent as a guitarist. Enjoying listening to the CD as well. Thank you. Linda & Tammy
**Jimmy Clanton posted on your Wall "I WANT TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I WAS/AM SO VERY , VERY PLEASED WITH YOUR GUITAR WORK ON '''EXTRAORDINARY LOVE'' , ....FROM THE MOMENT I WROTE THAT SONG I KNEW IT HAD TO HAVE AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR SOLO.... I TOLD PERSHING THIS AND LEFT IT IN HIS HANDS TO GIVE ME THE SMOOTH JAZZ SOUND I WANTED WHEN I WROTE THE SONG.......I AM GOING TO EXPLORE A WIDE RANGE OF POSSIBILITES FOR THAT SONG....IT IS SO VERY SPECIAL TO ME AND YOUR PART PUT THE ICEING ON THE CAKE, FRANK.....I SOLUTE YOU, MY FRIEND....I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOU AN AUTOGRAPH COPY ASA THEY ARRIVE AT MY OFFICE.....JIMMY"
** Tiacoma4 Comment on your video: Frank Ball performs Michael jackson's "Human Nature" There are tons of renditions of "Human Nature" by a musical instrument. That has got to be one of the best that I've heard. I generally lean towards a saxophone, but this is wonderful. I've replayed this video so many times. Thank you!
** Dubb1000 has made a comment on Frank Ball's Sazerac performs Sting's "It's Probably Me": Awesomeness 1000%!!!!!!!!!!! **
** I appreciate your work and believe you deserve all the recognition this album should get you! Keep rockin! Pershing Wells Digital Sac-a'-Lait Productions ** u did a wonderful job....when i wrote that song, i wanted the non-electric sound....you gave me EXACTLY what i wanted.!!!!! yes,,, i most definitely want to use you again.... i wiil be doing a Christian '''Praise and Worship' c.d.next year and would luv to include you on it!!!! all the best ,,,,,you did a great great job!!!! jimmy clanton
**Very tasty guitar Frank! It's amazing all the fine ideas you have and can play so well with those pedals. All the best, Carol K.
**Very Nicely Done! Amazing Quality, and Guitar Skill!
**It's Really Nice !!I love it ! And the sound is wonderful ! Good job
**Nice work ! Friendly Steph. ** Very Nicely Done! Amazing Quality, and Guitar Skill!
** It's Really Nice !! I love it ! And the sound is wonderful ! Good job
** Nice work! Friendly : Steph.
** awesome! ** Hey Frank! great playing.
** great playing ! Love that backing Track..you make it?
** Cool, I like your performance :)
** Awesome, loving the feel on this one.