Johnny Smith

Walk, Don't Run!

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While the tune "Walk, Don't Run" was such a smash for the Ventures it became synonymous with their name, the version by its composer, jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, is well-worth a listen itself. This Roulette album taking its name from the song came out in 1954, after Smith had become well-established as a NBC Studios staff guitarist who could be heard on television, on radio, and with the NBC Orchestra. Smith's quartet with rhythm guitarist Perry Lopez, drummer Don Lamond and bassist Arnold Fishkin features the original version of the tune (its original title was "Opus"), as well as a host of standards including "Moonlight in Vermont," "Stranger in Paradise," "Lover Man," "Autumn in New York," "In a Sentimental Mood," and "Someone to Watch Over Me." While a fine single-string soloist, Smith was also a genius at chordal structures, which is wonderfully evidenced in "Sophisticated Lady" and "Our Love Is Here to Stay." The CD version of the album contains a pair of bonus tracks, including a version of "Lullaby of Birdland," for which Smith took a page from the Les Paul songbook and overdubbed a second guitar part for himself. This may not be the most recognizable album in the jazz guitar canon, but it is a very fine one and should be explored.

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