The cushy vintage couches arranged below a long stream of cafe lights seat a little over a dozen guests in Provo’s Third Space Studios. The walk inside is dimly lit and feels like a portal into another time. Two fossilized dinosaur skulls are displayed at the foot of the venue’s small stage, as if a message to guests to suspend their disbelief for the next two hours. A keyboard, saxophone, upright bass, drum set, two microphones and several flutes are kept neatly on the stage floor, but who will be playing them?
“We’ve got the A-team performing tonight,” BYU commercial music professor Ray Smith said.
That “A-team” is The Ray Smith Jazz Quintet, a Provo jazz band featuring BYU Alumni Jack Wood. The group put on a concert featuring songs from their new album with Wood on Oct. 12 at Third Space Studios in Provo.
“We recently started recording an album with Jack Wood, a BYU alum who broke into the Los Angeles music scene and has worked with and recorded with some of the great jazz musicians on the planet,” Smith said.
The group featured Steve Lindeman on keys, Denson Angulo on bass, Rawson Simmons on drums and Ray Smith on saxophone and flute. Three of the four musicians hold doctorate degrees in music.
“What a well-educated group we have here,” said special guest performer Jack Wood, “I kind of feel bad for having only a Master’s degree.”
Wood received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at BYU in Spanish and Educational Psychology respectively. While at school, he would perform at weekend dances at the Wilkinson Center.
“I’m delighted to be back in Provo,” Wood said. “It brings back a lot of good memories for me. We’ve never done anything like this as a group in Provo because these musicians are wonderful but there’s nowhere for them to play except here in Third Space Studios.”
Emilee Floor, a jazz singer based in New York City, performed with the quintet as well and reflected on her love of performing.
“I think jazz brings people together because it brings up a sense of nostalgia in them,” Floor said. “I love seeing people connect with the music, whether it be the theme of the song or the actual song itself, the lyrics are so wholesome and that’s why they resonate so well with people.”
Third Space Studios features jazz music every Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. https://www.thirdspaceprovo.org/