Sunday, January 29, 2006

Drummer Marvin 'BU-GA-LU' Smith is a veteran in the world of music. His exciting playing has been heard on stages around the world for more than forty years.

Growing up in a musical family outside of New York City in nearby Englewood, NJ, Marvin began his studies of music at an early age. By the time he was eight years old, Marvin was already working with his older brother, Buster Smith, a prominent drummer who performed, most notably, with Jazz pioneer, Eric Dolphy.

When Marvin was sixteen, he worked for the Town Sound Recording Company. During his time there, he recorded with such stars of the music world as James Brown, Lola Falana, and Sam and Dave among others.

In 1969, Marvin joined singer Rocky Roberts' band and moved to Italy. During the nearly 25 years Marvin spent playing in Europe with Roberts, he also performed with many of the top names in Jazz. Stints with Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Mal Waldron, and Charles Mingus followed. It was also at this time that Marvin first
met and played with Archie Shepp and Sun Ra. Both men would prove to be influential in Marvin's career.

Archie Shepp asked Marvin to join his band in 1982. For five years Marvin toured all over the world and recorded with the legendary reedman. While with Shepp, Marvin further evolved what he calls "The Timing Of The Drum", a philosophy based upon the idea that rhythm in music follows the Universal Rhythms of Life.

One night in 1987, Marvin happened to be at a club across the street from Sweet Basil in New York City. He saw that Sun Ra was performing there all week and decided to stop in and say hi to his old friend. Upon entering the club, Sun Ra band member John Gilmore greeted Marvin and asked him to sit in with the band
for a set. After the set, Sun Ra immediately offered Marvin the gig starting the next day. From 1987-1992 Marvin toured and recorded with Sun Ra.

In 1992, Marvin released Be Impartial to Yourself, recorded live at “Visiones” in New York City with Cecil McBee and Kirk Lightsey. This recording showcases the power and creative energy Marvin brings to every group he plays with.

Currently, Marvin continues to stay busy as a leader, sideman and instructor in New York.


Excerpts from Jeffery Battersby’s article in the July issue of the Beacon Dispatch
reviewing Marvin BU-GA-LU Smith & Friends Jam Session at BAU/beacon artist union on June 17, 2005:

“….in short, Marvin BU-GA-LU Smith is a bundle of kinetic energy. His voice has a rough-edged Miles Davis-like rasp to it and his conversation is flavored with a kind of Beat Generation be-bop that makes you wonder what it must have been like to talk with Jack Kerouac. Interviewing Marvin directly is the equivalent of catching a whirlwind in a paper bag….
….Marvin hits the stage at just about 8:30 and the first time his sticks hit the skins the air turns electric. He finds beats hat you didn’t know existed. Beats between the beats. 16ths, 32nds, 64ths, 128ths notes. He’s hitting everything with anything he can; the tip of the sticks, the neck, the shoulder, the shaft, the butt. At any given interval he’s using every single inch of the drumsticks, spinning them around and slapping them down in perfect time.
…It’s a jazz frenzy that you can’t, no, forget that YOU DON’T WANT to pull yourself away from. The whirlwind is out of the bag. The night is filled with music and you think to yourself, “this is world-class jazz at BAU in Beacon,” and you can hardly believe what you are hearing.