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Bio

Adam is a Ropeadope recording artist, and Proudly uses Strymon pedals


“Standing strong in the field of “Jazz”… Adam Smale is one of the serious devotees… an exciting new voice on the scene …take notice!” – Pat Martino
F
or guitarist/composer Adam Smale, the pursuit of musical expression began at the tender age of seven years old.  Today, four decades later, that journey has reached a new peak with the release of his new quartet CD, Out of the Blue, which clearly demonstrates the extraordinary results spawned from the various twists and turns of all of those years of development.

Born in 1967 in a small working class community in Northern Ontario, Adam’s musical roots were first set in Country and Bluegrass. Too small at seven to handle the 5-string banjo that was his desire, he took up the guitar, immediately forming a lifelong bond and personal commitment to the instrument. By the time he was 12, he was performing professionally with local groups and by the time he was 14, he was an experienced professional, performing in clubs, bars, community events, weddings and private parties.

During these formative years, the young guitarist immersed himself in a wide variety of musical influences. But it wasn’t until his years at Humber College that he discovered jazz, and his path took a profound turn. “Jazz felt completely natural. I was always improvising, even when I was very young. Being somewhat naive, I thought everyone improvised all the time. Jazz was the perfect vehicle to express this natural propensity that I seemed to have.”  Rather than abandoning his roots – or his earlier influences like Chet Atkins, Albert Lee, Eddie Van Halen, Flatt & Scruggs – Adam began to forge a new direction for himself in the classic tradition of true jazz expression. Discovering a goldmine of jazz guitar masters, including Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, Tal Farlow, Jim Hall, and John Scofield, along with Charlie Parker and Bill Evans, a new world of possibilities opened up for him.

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But it was the music of the legendary Lenny Beau that had the greatest impact, not only in the direction of his music, but in the physical means by which he would choose to express it. Returning to the thumb-pick of his early years to employ a fingerstyle technique, Adam found his sound. “It was stepping back and moving forward at the same time. I can coax more nuances from the guitar with a fingerstyle technique. It’s a softer approach at times but it’s more sexy.” To complete the process, Adam designed his own 7-string guitars and now primarily uses his specially-built electric and classical guitar as his two instruments of choice.

“Guitarist Adam Smale plays with great authority and confidence…keeps the focus on strong original compositions and terrific interplay.”
– Jazz Report

After receiving an Associate Degree in Popular Music (Guitar) from Humber College in 1992, Smale’s public career began in earnest. Covering all genres from Country to Latin, Jazz to World, over the next 15 years Adam performed all over the globe, including South America, India and the Middle East, as well as numerous cross-Canadian tours. With Toronto as his home base, he performed consistently with his own trio and quartet and was a regular presence at the acclaimed Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, and was also featured at the prestigious Grand Prix du Jazz at the 2002 Montreal Jazz Festival. Outstanding Canadian musicians performed in his groups, sometimes including top names like bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke (both members of the groundbreaking John Handy Quintet which was wildly popular during the 1960s).

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Digging into his wide range of influences and musical interests, in 1996 Adam co-founded the experimental ensemble Camarillo, which blended a full spectrum of genres, incorporating World music, electronic and free improvisation into a whirling mix of freewheeling adventure. They performed together until 2007, when Adam left for Western Michigan University where he received his Masters Degree in Jazz Performance in 2009.  At that point Adam decided to move to the Jazz Mecca, New York City, where he continues to reside.

In addition to his Masters Degree, the educational realm has been an important part of Adam’s focus. He has conducted master classes and seminars throughout the U.S. and Canada for Guitar Workshop Plus and the National Guitar Workshop while also teaching several students privately. Adam has also written and published the book New Approach to Scales for Guitarists: A Practical Modern Direction, that he feels will change the way guitarists organize, and how they think and implement music scales on guitar.

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Adam’s debut CD, Fun City was released in Canada in 2000 to extensive radio play and critical acclaim. Out of the Blue – his first U.S. CD – will be released in January of 2014. Demonstrating his enormous versatility and virtuosic artistry on guitar, the album also showcases Adam’s remarkable compositional skills, weaving intricate and compelling stories in the classic jazz tradition of the masters. Adam is focusing primarily on his quartet and is currently arranging to tour behind the new release, ready to establish his own place in the forefront of today’s guitar masters.