Ruth Price Sings with the Johnny Smith Quartet

Ruth Price

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Ruth Price Sings with the Johnny Smith Quartet Review

by Dave Nathan

This album is a set of standards delivered by Ruth Price (who didn't make enough albums during her performing career), backed by Johnny Smith, one of jazz's eminent guitarists. Smith gained significant attention with his album Moonlight in Vermont, which Down Beat named as jazz album of the year, while Price performed in relative obscurity throughout her short career. Because this CD, originally issued by Teddy Reig's Roost Records, offers just a mite more than a half-hour's worth of music, each note should be savored. Price and Smith work wonderfully well together on tasteful arrangements played in an urbane, intelligent, and subdued manner. There are no pyrotechnics on this session. Their collaboration on "This Heart of Mine" rivals Sarah Vaughan's classic rendition. Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye," with Smith's dramatic guitar and John Rae's softly stroked vibes playing in support of Price, is a highlight of the album. On "When You Wish Upon a Star," made popular by Ukelele Ike Edwards in Pinocchio, Smith abandons his chordal playing for a single string approach behind Price. While comprised mostly of slow ballads, the serious atmosphere is relieved from time to time with an upbeat number, such as "Time after Time" and a bouncy "Back in Your Own Back Yard," done with swinging merriment. Not blessed with an overwhelming voice or great range, Price concentrates on her interpretive skills as she works her cool vocals with very good results. Price didn't record a lot during her career, but what is available is well worth having.

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