Willie "The Lion" Smith

1925-1937

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Willie "The Lion" Smith, one of stride piano's Big Three of the 1920s (along with James P. Johnson and Fats Waller), recorded a lot less than his two friends. In fact, with the exception of two selections apiece with the Gulf Coast Seven in 1925 (which features trombonist Jimmy Harrison and clarinetist Buster Bailey) and 1927's Georgia Strutters (starring singer Perry Bradford, Harrison, and cornetist Jabbo Smith), along with the rare and originally unreleased 1934 solo piano showcase "Finger Buster," this CD does not get started until 1935. Smith's Decca recordings of 1935 and 1937 were formerly quite obscure, showcasing his piano with three different versions of "His Cubs." The Lion is heard with a Clarence Williams-type quartet which includes cornetist Ed Allen and clarinetist Cecil Scott, matched up with trumpeter Dave Nelson and clarinetist Buster Bailey in a septet; and temporarily heading an early version of the John Kirby Sextet on a session dominated by drummer O'Neil Spencer's vocals. Highlights of this historic and enjoyable CD include "Santa Claus Blues," "Keep Your Temper," "Blues, Why Don't You Let Me Alone," and the earliest recording of the Lion's most famous composition, "Echo of Spring."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:57
2 2:55
3 2:39
4 2:36
5 2:50
6 2:55
7 2:29
8 2:47
9 2:37
10 2:38
11 2:50
12 2:48
13 2:28
14 2:54
15 2:51
16 3:05
17 3:04
18 2:48
19 2:26
20 2:48
21 3:15
22 3:15
23 2:32
blue highlight denotes track pick