Stuff Smith

Cat on a Hot Fiddle

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Recorded on two dates in 1959, this full-length by Stuff Smith features a pair of rhythm sections. One contains the great Red Mitchell on bass, the other the magnificent Shirley Horn on piano. In 1959, Smith had been on the scene for over two decades. And while he was well-known by the public at large for his novelty persona and his singing -- as evidenced by his 1936 smash hit "I'se A-Muggin'," this long-player aptly displays his stunning virtuosity as a jazz violinist, from standard jazz repertoire such as Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" to "Strike Up the Band." His bowing is dizzying and the band pushed hard to keep up with him. On "Nice Work if You Can Get It," the tempo middles along but Smith swings hard in his tasty way. And Smith's vocal skills are showcased on the classics "Oh, Lady Be Good" and "Somebody Loves Me," offering a well-rounded portrait of a man who many thought was past his prime. Not so. This date smokes and is a welcome addition to the jazz violin canon.

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