Richard Smith is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Studio/Jazz Guitar department at the renowned Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. He started the first Doctoral program in Contemporary Guitar performance in the world, and was responsible for Quincy Jones recently receiving an honorary USC degree. He has performed masterclasses and concerts at the London Music School, the Guitar Institute of Malaysia, The Modern Music Academy - Florence, the Universitate d'Roma, Rome, Music Academy 2000 - Bologna, The Drum and Bass Institute - Dusseldorf, Germany, the University of Northern Texas, the University of Miami, Jazz Masters Workshops-San Francisco, the University of Oregon, the Los Angeles Music Center, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and several International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences. In the jazz world Smith has built a strong reputation as a sideman and session guitarist with Richard Elliot (six #1 albums on the Bluenote label), and with Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun, Mark Antoine, Dan Siegel, Freddie Ravel and Warren Hill. His own records have established him as a veteran of the contemporary jazz world - with strong chart action and critical success on every one of his seven solo releases. His albums have garnished praise such as 'Best Contemporary Jazz Guitar Album' (Tune Up Magazine), a nomination for 'Record of the Year' (Ad Lib Magazine, Tokyo), and 'Best New Artist' (Radio & Records Magazine). He is currently signed with Native Language Music, and contemporary Jazz label based in Los Angeles. WHAT MUSICIANS ARE SAYING ABOUT 'NAURAL SOUL' (and Richard Smith...) 'With his new European release, 'Natural Soul,' Richard Smith shows that he is one of the finest fusion guitar players around today. This album is a treat for all hard core contemporary jazz fans, not to mention a huge resource for guitar students. Absolutely Fabulous! ' - Chris Standring, contemporary jazz recordingartist 'Richard Smith has crafted a very well produced CD of original music reminiscent of Pat Metheny, the Yellowjackets and Weather Report which still manages to retain his own musical imprint. The guitar sounds range from pristine acoustic to overdriven electric; all are beautifully detailed in the mix and Richard solos with authority and soul throughout. He's backed here by a band of seasoned Los Angeles pros who play his compostions as if they were a working band. I enjoyed this disc thoroughly.' - John Stowell, stellar jazz guitarist 'Richard Smith's guitar playing is as clean and crisp as it gets. His CD, 'Natural Soul,' is a truly enjoyable collection of songs that not only showcases his incredible guitar playing but also puts him at the head of the class as a composer.' - Pat Kelley, studio ace, guitarist for David Benoit, George Benson 'Richard always seems to address the acoustic guitar with a certain kind of fire, which goes miles beyond most of the other guys.' - David Becker, one of Europes top guitarists - 'Congratulations on a beautifully played, beautifully produced album. Your guitar department is, indeed, very fortunate to have you!' - - Joe Beck, New York jazz and session legend 'Throughout my years as a performing and recording musician, I have been keenly aware of Richard Smith's work. His ability to retain a personal voice as he spans a wide spectrum of musical styles sets him apart from other players in the music world today. His soulful sound and touch combined with acute knowledge and breadth of experience sets him apart as one of the cutting edge players of the guitar. Richard's ability to share his knowledge in a concise and thorough way makes him the leading educator and spokesperson for the instrument and it's role in American culture.' - Bruce Forman, stellar bebop guitarist Armed with steel-string and nylon-string instruments, Smith sparkles in the variety of settings that comprise Natural Soul. This new Smith offering will do much to satiate your acoustic six-string jones...'Natural Soul's' multi-cultural musical flavors like calypso, bossa nova, and rhumba show the diversity of styles Smith has assimilated into this acoustic fusion offering. Every carefully crafted cut is augmented by the masterful musicianship of Smith and his supporting cast (all of whom have chops to spare), making this album a rewarding musical meal from it's opening sound byte. ' Dale Turner West Coast Editor of Guitar One Magazine.