..... earPlay Jazzquintet .....



michael smolens and the earPlay Jazzquintet

(click here for hi-resolution 300dpi version)

Personnel (left to right):

Michael Smolens

piano / synthesizers / voice / balafon / alto flute
Alex Murzyn
soprano, alto, & tenor saxes / C & alto flutes / bass clarinet
Fred Randolph
acoustic & elec. basses & guitars / sop. sax / flute / perc.
Brian Festa
drum set / tabla / percussion
Michael Hatfield
vibes / "marimba lumina" / sampler / accordion / perc. / voice
*with guest artist
Heather Rogers
spoken word / stage magic


The "earPlay Jazzquintet" is a groundbreaking electro-acoustic ensemble with a
kaleidoscopic sound.

They take stylistic variety to new heights, cross-fertilizing
North Indian,
West African,
and Middle Eastern influences
jazz and 20th-century classical idioms.

The ensemble deftly weaves together compelling textures, uniting the realms of
composition and improvisation,
spoken word and stage magic.

Add to that a veritable banquet of instruments from around the world
— including the subtle usage of electronic sounds —
and you’ve got an
unforgettable musical adventure!

More About...

Members of the ensemble walk a wide-embracing variety of musical paths, from Brazilian choro, Afro-Cuban, country-western, jump swing, vintage funk, to classical, musical theatre, contemporary jazz, ritual music and digital sound design. Their debut CD “Rasa and her Moods” will be released in late 2014.
Venues the band has performed at include:

• Yoshi’s Jazz House

• West Coast Orff-Schulwerk Jazz Conference

• Old First Church Chamber Series
• Freight and Salvage & Anna's Jazz Island
• Ernie Shelton & Backyard Jazz House Concerts

• Point Reyes Dance Palace

These musicians have been heard performing or recording with many jazz luminaries, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Stefon Harris, Paul McCandless, Zakir Hussain, Poncho Sanchez, Donald Byrd, Bob Mintzer, Diana Krall, Mel Torme, and Natalie Cole.

Quotes from Presenters

"We had a wonderful time last weekend with
the Michael Smolens’ "earPlay Jazzquintet"
which wowed us with their multi-instrumental
display of dazzling musicianship and
world music compositions"
—Gerry Sanders (host of the Backyard Jazz Concert Series,
    following their September 26th, 2010 performance)

"Really incredible, wonderful music!"
—Anna DeLeon (owner of "Anna's Jazz Island")
(following the group's May 15th, 2009 performance)


What Musicians are Saying

"I thought the musicianship was on an
extremely high level, really wonderful to see.
I also enjoyed the compositions very much.
Congratulations on a great show!
—Sam Bass (recording artist, touring cellist with Les Claypool
following their November 6th 2009 performance at the Hillside Concert Series)

"So what really intrigued (and astonished) me about
the "earPlayJazzquintet" was how do you guys
create such careful and sophisticated music
without having everything feel 'canned',
and without having the whole thing
dissolving into chaos?"
—Alex Cory (composer/band leader/recording artist)
(following their November 3rd 2006 performance at the Piedmont Piano Concert Series in San Francisco)

"I almost didn’t make it, but Gerry and Alastair Ingram,
one of the deans of sax in Sonoma County said I just had to.
Oh, so glad am I because I LOVED the group,
the most innovative, creative bunch of folks…
and when I learned that Smolens studied with Art Lande,
it fell into place...They did Brazilian samba,
some West-African material, and best of all,
an Indian raga with tablas. Gerry did a
really good thing by going out a bit on a limb.
If he books them, they’re going to be good!
—Jim Sorrells (saxophonist)


Quotes about the Band

"This seriously talented Quintet is lead by Michael Smolens, his ensemble including Alex Murzyn, Michael Hatfield, Fred Randolph, Brian Rice. These names may mean little to you, but after you have the oppurtunity to listen, you will be enlightened, as I was."
—D.S., NiteWise

"...the band was terrific, really glad I was there.
I also loved Heather’s magic and the pairing of
her performance with the Hafiz poem.
It was extremely original and effective. The whole day
was terrific! I hope Earplay will be playing again.
—Rachel Jacobs (concertgoer)


Press Quotes about the Band Leader

“Smolens’ pieces are notable for their originality and beautifully spacious arrangements…”
—Tony Brooke, Critics’ Choice SF Weekly

“One of the premiere Bay Area composers.”
—Doug Edwards, KPFA Airtime and BAJABA Showcase host

“A creative figure on the Bay Area scene for the past two decades,
Smolens’ music is marked by spaciousness and
carefully calibrated instrumental voicings.”

—Andrew Gilbert, Contra Costa Times Critic’s Choice

“No ordinary composer…
Smolens gives a broad palette from which to paint luminous ECM-like textures.”

—Lee Hildebrand, East Bay Express Critic’s Choice

"A treasure-trove of musical riches."
—Bud Spangler, Producer and host of See’s Sunday Nights Sweets