Jeffery Smith

A Little Sweeter

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Jeffery Smith, whose career was helped by Shirley Horn, is a warm and expressive baritone singer who is a little reminiscent of Johnny Hartman and Billy Eckstine. On this set (his first major-label recording and second overall), he is assisted by an all-star crew: pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Ben Riley and occasionally trumpeter Terell Stafford and altoist Justin Robinson. Smith somehow turns "Eleanor Rigby" into a slow jazz ballad, gives a fresh take to "Lush Life," improvises a bit on "Misty" and puts plenty of spirit into "Dindi." During a period when male jazz vocalists are at a premium, Smith offers some hope.

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