Johnny Smith

Johnny Smith Foursome, Vol. 2

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In 1957, Johnny Smith was at the height of his artistic power when he cut this album for the Roost label. Smith had a patented method for shifting from single-string statements of the melody line to complex chordal structures with amazing ease. This ability is put to use for each of the cuts on this album, but is especially useful on such cuts as "Angel Eyes" and "You Go to My Head." Smith's guitar also seemed to have a one of a kind resonance to it, which energized every melody he played, whether on the melody itself or when improvising, making his playing immediately recognizable. One clearly hears this kind of assertiveness mixed with subtlety on "These Foolish Things." Although barely two minutes long, "Laura" finds Smith nevertheless able to capture the haunting, film noir quality of David Raskin's score for the 1944 Otto Preminger film of the same name. Smith's playing approaches the level of Segovia on this cut. The guitarist brought the same group into the studio that he used for Vol. 1 of this series. Pianist Bob Pancoast gets a smidgen of solo space. But, for the most part, the other members of the foursome are there to support Smith, which they do admirably. For listeners needing a Johnny Smith album for their collections, this one is an excellent representative of the unique qualities Smith brought to his playing. Deeply recommended.

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