Smooth Operation
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Smooth Operation

Band Jazz R&B


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The best kept secret in music


"Flint-area band brings its smooth jazz home"

Flint-area band brings its smooth jazz home
By Lorri Lea | The Bay City Times
July 30, 2009, 10:00AM
A supper-club venue will introduce a wider audience to the blended smooth jazz offerings of the Smooth Operation, a Flint-area based group formed a year ago to create a unique sound.

With band leader Steve Banks on drums, the group will appear in a special one-night show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at Walli's in Burton.

Courtesy photoSmooth Operation performs soft, mellow jazz music. Band members are from the Flint area. The music blends rhythm and blues sounds with softer tones prevalent in many of the East Coast bands of the 1960s."We'll set up in the second-floor ballroom with 25 tables, so it will be a good size audience, and one I'm sure will be there to hear some very good smooth jazz," said Banks, who has a background in rhythm and blues.

"I've been into this all my life with some uncles who were musicians in Indiana," he said.

Banks gathered a bandstand-full of musicians who had either pure jazz backgrounds or R&B experience.

"These are some very, very good musicians," he said.

The group includes Eric Majied on the vibraphone, Raphael Banks (no relation) on bass, Brent Cimbalik on guitar, Dexter Graham on saxophone, and a guest performer known as Ovaciir on keyboard in place of regular keyboardist Steve Boone. Guest vocalist in the show is Bernard Jackson.

At 55, Banks is the senior member and all the rest are in their 40s except for Cimbalik who is 24. Banks said the experience factor is one that allows the group to infuse all kinds of material, making it work in the smooth jazz format. All are from the Flint area except Ovaciir, who has worked extensively in California and the Midwest.

The music isn't the loud and splashy offerings that sometimes are associated with "modern" jazz, but it blends some of the sounds of rhythm and blues and the softer tones prevalent in many of the East Coast bands of the 1960s.

The material, though, is new, adapted to fit the softer, mellow, low-key standard that sophisticated audiences appreciate.

• What: Concert by Smooth Operation, a smooth jazz band

• Where: Walli's, G-1341 S. Center Road, Burton

• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1

• Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at door

• Info: (810) 240-1561 or 
(248) 390-9194

"Let's put it this way, when you hear this music, you can still sit and have a conversation with the person next to you," Banks smiled.

"We also want to present this to the Flint people, because we know it is something they will understand and enjoy," he said.

The show, which will run until 11:30 p.m., will also allow the band to "dream big," Banks said.

"We plan to keep together and that's something that isn't done a lot. We are going to be putting out a CD in a few months with a lot of our own new material on it."

The group recently performed in Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, the home of some of the great jazz performers in the state and a stop along the way for many jazz stars over the years.

Banks said the group, with its smooth jazz material, was well-received and it was the impetus to play in the Flint area to draw a home-grown audience.

"We want the audience to have the opportunity to hear us play," he said. "We're from Flint so it was an opportunity to get a home crowd."

Another element is Banks' insistence that there is no profanity in the show and the music in non-suggestive, "not overpowering."

In fact, the group has a "spiritual" opening that sets the sophisticated tone the band intends.

Smooth Operation also was launched with the help of the American Federation of Musicians union, which provided some start-up funds.

The performances in Detroit earned the band the title of "Michigan Artist of the Month" from the Web site

Tickets in advance are $10 by calling Banks at (810) 240-1581, or Meek at (248) 390-9194. Tickets are $12 at the door.

There is a cash bar and dinner can be ordered through the restaurant.
- by Tim Younkman/For the Flint Journal

"Michigan Artists of the Month"

Congratulations! Smooth Operation is the Featured Artists on our site. Please let us know where you are playing and when we can come out and take pictures and or video. Michigan Artists has been around and online for over ten years. We have lots of traffic and support the Art of Music. We hope you will spread the word and have great success.
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MarySmooth Operation (Smooth Jazz)
Smooth Operation was formed by Steve Banks with former Ah Yeah band members Vern Lawrence and Brett Cimbalik. The group was joined by Steve's friend bassist Raphael Banks and renowned entertainer and keyboardist Gerald Blassingame. Together they formed the funky smooth seductive sound with major influences the great keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith, guitarist Norman Brown and Pat Metheny and xylophonist Roy Ayres. Smooth Operation is Steve Banks-Drums Brett Cimbalik- Guitar Raphael Banks-Bass Vern Lawrence-Strings Gerald Blassingame-Keys


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