Johnny Smith

The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar

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When cool-toned guitarist Johnny Smith left New York for Colorado in the mid-'50s, he didn't hang up his guitar. He continued to play locally and make occasional trips back to the Big Apple to record. The two sessions included on The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar were the results of two trips in 1960 and 1961. Just about everything goes right on these sessions. Smith's guitar especially shines in the company of pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Ed Shaughnessy in the second set. There's a lovely, soulful version of "'Round Midnight," with a nice long solo by Smith (he even bends a blue note or two) and a shorter, though poignant one, by Jones. The band goes into overdrive for "This Can't Be Love," filling it with bouncy rhythm and sharp lead work. Pianist Bob Pancoast, bassist George Roumanis, and drummer Mousey Alexander join Smith on the 1960 session, originally issued as Johnny Smith Plus the Trio. As with the 1961 set, solid instrumental choices like "Some of These Days" and "Hippo the Sentimental Hippy" brighten up the proceedings. The band also bravely tackles Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco," kicking it off with an extended, fiery drum workout by Alexander. In fact, the band doesn't join in until the last minute of the piece. Whether one considers the choice selections, good accompaniment, or wonderful guitar work by Smith, The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar is a lovely album and a good introduction to a fine guitarist.

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