Two-time GRAMMY Award-nominated drummer/composer/producer Nate Smith released his inspired new album, Kinfolk 2: See The Birds in September, 2021, the highly-anticipated follow up to 2017’s GRAMMY Award-nominated Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere.
To herald the release of Kinfolk 2: See The Birds, Smith is sharing the album’s first single, the hip-hop centric “Square Wheel,” which finds Smith juggling odd-meter beats in unison with rapper Kokayi’s intrepid rhythmic cadence along side singer Michael Mayo’s impassioned vocals as well as Brad Allen on guitar, bassist Fima Ephron, saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and Jon Cowherd on keys. A companion music video filmed in the recording studio is streaming on YouTube now.
Kinfolk 2: See the Birds affirms Nate Smith as one of the most dynamic drummers, insightful composers, and engaging bandleaders of his generation, adept across infinite genres and multiple styles. The album sees Smith joined by an array of diverse fellow artists, including singers Brittany Howard, Amma Whatt, legendary guitarist Vernon Reid, violinist Regina Carter, vibraphonist Joel Ross, rapper Kokayi, Michael Mayo, and Stokley Williams (of the pioneering R&B band Mint Condition).
Kinfolk 2: See the Birds marks the second installment in a remarkable trilogy charting Smith’s continuing evolution as a musician and composer. While Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere touched upon Smith’s childhood in Chesapeake, Virginia, and the sounds that he absorbed in his family home, the new album offers an impressionistic portrait of the artist as a young man considering his future in music. Those years saw Smith inspired by the diverse and eclectic riches of Prince and Michael Jackson, hip-hop and the emerging neo-soul movement, as well as music associated with the groundbreaking Black Rock Coalition such as Living Colour (whose trailblazing founder, Vernon Reid, appears on the new album’s menacing “Rambo.”)
However, Kinfolk 2 is no throwback – Smith reconciles his teenaged influences with the modern jazz sensibilities that he’s demonstrated with not just his solo material but as a sideman with such jazz titans as guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Dave Holland, and saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Chris Potter. Recorded mostly in two band sessions – June 2019 at Sear Sound in New York City and February 2020 at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn – the album projects a dreamy, cinematic sensibility as the music ebbs and flows from wistful downtempo excursions to rugged hip-hop beats, hypnotic alt-rock leaning tunes to amorous laments. Kinfolk 2 boasts a slightly different lineup for its core ensemble than its predecessor. Saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and bassist Fima Ephron return, while Smith welcomes guitarist Brad Allen Williams and keyboardist Jon Cowherd to the combo.