BACK IN AUGUST OF 2011, MARIA AND JOSH SABLE had a musical vision and needed to assemble a group of players to realize it. Three months later, Smooth Dialects hit the road in a whirlwind tour of Southeastern cities. It was a good start, and they had found a kindred spirit in bassist Ryan Crabtree. But the band wasn’t quite where they wanted it to be yet.
The addition of percussionist Chris Smith the following April brought them one important step closer. When keyboard player Mr. Golden Styles signed up later that year, all they lacked was a horn section, a role swiftly filled by Michael Royer and Josh Dunlap. All in all, their vision went from conceptualization to realization in a relatively short period of time. All that was left was to go out and make a reputation.
So what do you get when a musically gifted husband-and-wife team assembles a crack squad of musicians into one of the hottest jazz ensembles this town has seen in years? In 2012 they were voted “Best New Band” followed by “Entertainer of the Year” in 2013.
They’ve played all the major local gigs, including Nightfall, Riverfront Nights, Riverbend and Scenic City Roots. The only reason they aren’t touring nationally is...well, I don’t know, but I’d assume it’s a desire to stay close to kith and kin, because otherwise these people would be tearing it up coast to coast.
I have described them as a jazz ensemble because that was my first impression listening to their album, but defining the band becomes more problematic the longer you listen. There are a great many influences at work. In fact, the band self-describes as “jazz, funk, soul, reggae, world” music which is accurate, if a bit wordy.
How about a descriptor instead of a label? This is the band you hear in the casino when James Bond is breaking the bank on the baccarat table. When you see film clips of beautiful people driving exotic sports cars on winding European roads en route to exotic locales, this is the music they’re listening to on the radio.
Sexy, smooth, smart and classy, this is music for grown-ups, and it’s equally suited to the festival stage, a Vegas revue or the posh, upscale clubs where the guy handing out towels in the restroom makes more in tips than most musicians see in a year.
This band is sophisticated.
Maria’s vocal showcase is incomparably sweet and confident, Josh’s guitar work is impeccable, the bass and drums drive it all and the horns accent the action perfectly. Thoughtful execution lies behind every note. Their self-titled album is a work of art. “Wait for Me Lover” is the most enchanting paean to melancholic longing I’ve ever heard.
Seriously, I’ve listened to it half a dozen times so far and certain passages still make the hair on my arms stand up every time. I think the only thing that could make it any more powerful would be to see it live—and the next best opportunity for that will be April 11 at Rhythm & Brews where Smooth Dialects will be playing back-to-back with the Uptown Big Band.
The divine Miss Sable will be lending her vocal talents to both performances. If you’ve never seen or heard them, this should be one hell of an introduction.