Johnny Smith

Spring Is Here: The Guitar Genius of Johnny Smith

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Spring Is Here: The Guitar Genius of Johnny Smith is a good compilation of 22 tracks from 1952-1955, drawn from five different sessions. Smith plays in an assured, notably Charlie Christian-influenced fashion on these recordings, the lineups that he leads usually backing him in an early bop style. The material mixes standards, interpretations of compositions by contemporary jazz players such as Bud Powell and John Lewis, and a few Smith originals. While Smith's own compositions take up a pretty small percentage of the program, these include by far the most famous of these, "Walk Don't Run" -- the same song made into one of the biggest instrumental rock hits of all time by the Ventures in the early '60s. The arrangement of that tune is pretty different here, though you can hear almost identical solo lines in the verse. Also on hand is Smith's most popular recording, "Moonlight in Vermont," one of the four tracks on which Stan Getz handles tenor sax, though Getz is the only other famed musician to play on these selections.

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