Johnny Smith: The Complete Roost Johnny Smith Small Group Sessions (2002)
The world of jazz in the late '40s, '50s, and early '60s was graced with one of the most talented guitar virtuosos of all time: Johnny Smith. Unless you were a budding young jazz guitarist or a lover of guitar at that time, you probably don't own or haven't heard most of the incredible recordings that this great artist produced. Mosaic Records' release of The Complete Roost Johnny Smith Small Group Sessions is exactly that.
This 8-CD box set release contains 178 tracks that cover 15 original LPs and 4 ten-inch sessions in a beautiful digital format, paying due homage to the guitar virtuoso in celebration of his 80th birthday. This set fills a missing piece in the recorded history and legacy of jazz guitar. A large part of Smith's life-work is covered in this volume - and, of course, some of the greatest jazz guitar performances ever heard.
The musicians appearing on the recordings are for the most part Mousey Alexander (drums), George Roumanis (bass), and Bob Pancoast on piano. Hank Jones, George Duvivier, Eddie Safranski, and Don Lamond are also featured, along with Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, and Paul Quinichette. Johnny Rae (vibes and percussion), another great musician, also appears on some of the cuts.
Discs 1 and 2 cover some excellent recordings which offer a relaxed format and brilliant harmonic, lyrical, thematic, and humorous improvisation, fluently executed by Smith on tunes such as "Where Or When," "Dancing on the Ceiling," "Easy to Love," and "Have you Met Miss Jones." Smith's stunning technique and harmonic knowledge never got in the way of his playing, which retained a feeling of simplicity in the midst of complexity: a quality that characterizes genius. The dynamic combination of jazz great saxophonist Stan Getz with Smith produced a unique sound exemplified in their classic hit, "Moonlight in Vermont." The guitar giant always remains interesting and creative, as in the great standard "How About You," during which Smith modulates to a different key in the midst of his solo break, embarking upon a swinging solo that only he could produce. The first and second CDs showcase his beautiful closed voice and different chordal solos - particularly on ballads like "What's New," "Sophisticated Lady," and "Autumn in New York." Johnny Smith's clean technique and beautiful single line solos can be heard in "I'll Remember April," "Blues for Birdland," and the burning tempo tunes "Jaguar," "Cherokee," "S'Wonderful," and a host of other great standards on these two discs. His own composition, "Walk Don't Run" (later a hit record) gives the listener an idea of what the composer's initial idea for the song might have been.
Discs 3 and 4 feature more of the great jazz and pop standards in a quartet format, with the late Johnny Rae on vibes replacing piano on half of disc three. This group represented one of the best jazz guitar quartets of all time. Johnny Rae's cool and swinging interpretation of Milt Jackson's "Bags Groove" and Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" show the talent of this great jazz musician who was also a wonderful drummer and percussionist. Smith's solo on "Bags Groove" is one cool jazz 12 bar blues solo, pretty much summing up his single line solo style. Rae appears on nine of the ten tracks that were on the original LP, with Smith playing "Black is the Color of my True Love's Hair" as a solo piece. Disc 4 contains more of the classic quartet songs like "Body and Soul," "East of the Sun," and "Zing Went the Strings of my Heart," definitely completing the four-disc group.
Discs 5 and 6 are a rare addition of many great classics that time and room did not allow for in the first four discs. And luckily so, for they include many Rogers and Hammerstein favorites, like "You are Beautiful" and "People Will Say We're in Love." A large portion of these two CDs highlight Smith's seeming ease in pulling off a guitar trio session, which is a more difficult task, as the guitar is more exposed. Taking advantage, however, of the extra space in that setting, Smith shines brilliantly once again. Tunes such as Like "Someone in Love" and "A Foggy Day" give a good idea of what Johnny's conception of the guitar in a trio setting.
Last but not least, we have disc 7 and 8, which give us an even broader view of the versatility of the guitarist. In addition to the final collection of quartet sessions that include a number of tunes featuring Hank Jones on piano - notably "Embraceable You," "Misty," and "Gypsy in my Soul" - there is more. We are treated to the special recordings of Johnny Smith playing solo guitar - a treat indeed! This recording, called "The Man with the Blue Guitar," was recorded at the Johnny Smith Guitar Center in Colorado Springs in early 1962. He performs his own solo arrangements and adaptations of composers such as Ravel and Scrabin.
The only thing that's missing in this set is the LP that Johnny did with jazz vocalist Ruth Price. This, in my opinion, was a jazz classic ranking with the noted Barney Kessel - Julie London collaboration. Ruth Price Sings with the Johnny Smith Quartet has priceless versions of "A Sleeping Bee," "Back in Your Own Backyard," and a lot of other good tunes. Oh well, lets consider ourselves lucky. Maybe next time.
All recordings are available solely through Mosaic Records; 35 Melrose Place; Stamford, CT. 06902; (203) 327-7111. Check their website at www.mosaicrecords.com for more information or to place an order.
Track Listing: DISC ONE
1. Where Or When (A) 2:24 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 2. Tabu (A) 2:39 (Stillman-Russell-Lecuona) 3. Moonlight In Vermont (A) 3:13 (K. Suessdorf-J. Blackburn) 4. Jaguar (A) 2:31 (Johnny Smith) 5. Jaguar (alternate version) (B) 2:27 (Johnny Smith) 6. (I Don't Stand A) Ghost Of A Chance With You (B) 3:08 (Crosby-Washington-Young) 7. Vilia (B) 2:40 (Franz Lehar) 8. My Funny Valentine (B) 2:37 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 9. Sometimes I'm Happy (C) 2:17 (V. Youmans-I. Caesar) 10. Stars Fell On Alabama (C) 3:02 (M. Parish-F. Perkins) 11. Nice Work If You Can Get It (C) 2:23 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 12. Tenderly (C) 3:24 (Lawrence-Plante-Gross) 13. Yesterdays (E) 2:50 (J. Kern-O. Harbach) 14. Cavu (E) 2:12 (Johnny Smith) 15. I'll Be Around (E) 2:44 (Alec Wilder) 16. Cherokee (E) 2:47 (Ray Noble) 17. Ramona (D) 2:20 (L. W. Gilbert-M. Wayne) 18. The Terry Theme From Limelight (D) 3:13 (Charlie Chaplin) 19. Lullaby Of Birdland (F) 3:03 (George Shearing) 20. My One And Only Love (F) 2:28 (G. Wood-R. Mellin) 21. Stranger in Paradise (H) 2:36 (R. Wright-G. Forrest) 22. Our Love Is Here To Stay (H) 2:16 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 23. 'S Wonderful (H) 2:23 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 24. In A Sentimental Mood (H) 2:31 (Duke Ellington)
1. What's New (G) 3:04 (B.Haggart-J. Burke) 2. I'll Remember April (G) 2:46 (Raye-DePaul-Johnson) 3. Sophisticated Lady (G) 3:01 (D. Ellington-M. Parish) 4. Easy To Love (G) 3:14 (Cole Porter) 5. Autumn In New York (H) 2:42 (Vernon Duke) 6. Walk, Don't Run! (H) 2:46 (Johnny Smith) 7. Lover Man (H) 2:25 (Davis-Ramirez-Sherman) 8. Someone To Watch Over Me (H) 2:14 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 9. How About You? (H) 2:43 (R. Freed-B. Lane) 10. Dancing On The Ceiling (I) 2:56 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 11. Blues For Birdland (I) 2:37 (Johnny Smith) 12. Have You Met Miss Jones? (I) 2:31 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 13. But Beautiful (J) 2:49 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 14. Swinging On A Star (J) 2:35 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 15. I Could Have Told You (J) 2:49 (C. Sigman-J. Van Heusen) 16. It Could Happen To You (J) 2:09 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 17. Oh You Crazy Moon (J) 2:32 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 18. I Thought About You (J) 2:10 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 19. Deep In A Dream (J) 2:49 (E. De Lange-J. Van Heusen) 20. So Help Me (J) 2:49 (E. De Lange-J. Van Heusen) 21. Nancy (With The Laughing Face) (J) 3:17 (P. Silvers-J. Van Heusen) 22. Polka Dots And Moonbeams (J) 2:42 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 23. Darn That Dream (J) 3:27 (E. De Lange-J. Van Heusen) 24. Imagination (J) 2:34 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen)
1. Django (K) 5:02 (John Lewis) 2. Wait Till You See Her (K) 2:15 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 3. 0500 Blues (K) 3:45 (Johnny Smith) 4. More Bass (K) 2:28 (George Roumanis) 5. Un Poco Loco (K) 4:25 (Bud Powell) 6. Easy Living (K) 3:16 (R. Rainger-L. Robin) 7. Old Girl (K) 3:52 (George Roumanis) 8. Little Girl Blue (K) 2:47 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 9. Tired Blood (K) 4:16 (Johnny Smith) 10. Spring Is Here (K) 2:44 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 11. It Never Entered My Mind (L) 2:31 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 12. Samba (L) 2:49 (Johnny Smith) 13. Black Is The Color (Of My True Love's Hair) (L) 2:04 (Adapted by Johnny Smith) 14. Pawn Ticket (L) 7:07 (Ray Bryant) 15. 'S Wonderful (L) 4:59 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 16. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (L) 2:08 (Cole Porter) 17. Blue Lights (L) 4:11 (Basheer Qusim) 18. Montage (L) 4:59 (Johnny. Smith) 19. Bags' Groove (L) 3:18 (Milt Jackson) 20. 'Round Midnight (L) 3:42 (Monk-Hanighen-Williams)
1. Hello, Young Lovers (M) 4:34 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 2. Love For Sale (M) 3:54 (Cole Porter) 3. The Maid With The Flaxen Hair (M) 2:00 (Claude Debussy, adapted by Johnny Smith) 4. Love Letters (M) 2:12 (E. Heyman-V. Young) 5. Tickle Toe (M) 2:47 (Lester Young) 6. Goodbye (M) 2:18 (Gordon Jenkins) 7. Body And Soul (M) 3:20 (Green-Heyman-Eyton-Sour) 8. Lover (M) 3:22 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 9. The Boy Next Door (M) 2:35 (H. Martin-R. Blane) 10. Potter's Luck (M) 3:37 (Horace Silver) 11. Autumn Nocturne (M) 2:07 (J. Myron-K. Gannon) 12. Band Aid (M) 3:03 (Russ Freeman) 13. Angel Eyes (N) 4:11 (M. Dennis-E. Brent) 14. Deep Night (N) 4:00 (R.Vallee-C. Henderson) 15. These Foolish Things (N) 3:30 (Strachey-Marvell-Link) 16. East Of The Sun (N) 3:09 (Brooks Bowman) 17. There's A Small Hotel (N) 4:12 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 18. Laura (N) 2:31 (D. Raksin-J. Mercer) 19. Tea For Two (N) 4:39 (V. Youmans-I. Caesar) 20. You Go To My Head (N) 4:30 (J.F. Coots-H. Gillespie) 21. I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You (N) 5:08 (N. Washington-G. Bassman) 22. Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart (N) 5:53 (James F. Hanley)
1. Swingin' Shepherd Blues (O) 2:33 (Moe Koffman) 2. Lullaby Of Birdland (O) 2:05 (George Shearing) 3. You Are Beautiful (P) 3:53 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 4. I Enjoy Being A Girl (P) 3:47 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 5. Sunday (P) 2:32 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 6. A Hundred Million Miracles (P) 2:36 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 7. Grant Avenue (P) 2:27 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 8. Love Look Away (P) 3:31 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 9. Like A God (P) 4:03 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 10. Finale (P) 7:13 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 11. When I Fall In Love (Q) 2:45 (Albert Selden) 12. It Might As Well Be Spring (Q) 2:47 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 13. I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Q) 2:20 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 14. Black Is The Color (Of My True Love's Hair) (Q) 2:30 (Adapted by Johnny Smith) 15. Like Someone In Love (Q) 2:35 (J. Burke-J. Van Heusen) 16. You Don't Know What Love Is (Q) 2:42 (D. Raye-G. DePaul) 17. Isn't It Romantic (Q) 2:52 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 18. I Remember The Corn Fields (Q) 2:05 (M. Mayne-H. Ralton) 19. A Foggy Day (Q) 2:59 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 20. Scarlet Ribbons (Q) 2:42 (E. Danzig-J. Segal) 21. People Will Say We're In Love (Q) 2:53 (R. Rodgers-O. Hammerstein) 22. The Nearness Of You (Q) 2:32 (H. Carmichael-N. Washington)
1. Moonlight In Vermont (R) 2:33 (K. Suessdorf-J. Blackburn) 2. My Funny Valentine (R) 3:20 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 3. Little Girl Blue (R) 2:50 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 4. My One And Only Love (R) 2:43 (G. Wood-R. Mellin) 5. Jimmy Van Heusen Medley (R) 4:05 Darn That Dream (E. De Lange-J. Van Heusen) Polka Dots and Moonbeams (E. De Lange-J. Van Heusen) 6. Satin Doll (R) 2:54 (D. Ellington-B. Strayhorn) 7. Blues Backstage (R) 3:55 (Frank Foster) 8. Everything Happens To Me (R) 3:21 (T. Adair-M. Dennis) 9. Pavane (R) 1:30 (Maurice Ravel) 10. Willow Weep For Me (R) 6:04 (Ann Ronnell) 11. Vilia (R) 3:42 (Franz Lehar) 12. Fools Rush In (R) 2:36 (R. Bloom-J. Mercer) 13. I Remember Clifford (R) 4:05 (Benny Golson) 14. The Lady Is A Tramp (R) 2:46 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 15. There Will Never Be Another You (R) 3:07 (H. Warren-M. Gordon) 16. Autumn Leaves (R) 4:02 (Mercer-Prevert-Kozma) 17. Mood Indigo (R) 2:50 (D. Ellington-B. Bigard) 18. Sentimental Journey (R) 3:18 (Brown-Homer-Green) 19. Three Little Words (R) 2:16 (H. Ruby-B. Kalmer) 20. My Romance (R) 2:28 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 21. Sometimes I'm Happy (R) 3:43 (V. Youmans-I. Caesar) 22. I'll Take Romance (R) 3:03 (B. Oakland-O. Hammerstein) 23. Song For Jimmy Atkins (R) 3:39 (Johnny Smith)
1. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) (S) 2:39 (D. Ellington-P. F. Webster) 2. Let's Fall In Love (S) 2:17 (T. Koehler-H. Arlen) 3. I Can't Get Started (S) 4:56 (V. Duke-I. Gershwin) 4. Some Of These Days (S) 2:26 (Shelton Brooks) 5. You Took Advantage Of Me (S) 2:08 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 6. Over The Rainbow (S) 2:26 (E. Y. Harburg-H, Arlen) 7. Out Of Nowhere (S) 3:34 (E. Heyman-J. Green) 8. Prelude To A Kiss (S) 3:30 (Ellington-Mills-Gordon) 9. Un Poco Loco (S) 3:30 (Bud Powell) 10. Hippo, The Sentimental Hippy (S) 2:58 (G. Roumanis-J. Messner) . 11. It's You Or No One (S) 2:56 (S. Cahn-J. Styne) 12. Come Rain or Come Shine (T) 4:42 (J. Mercer-H. Arlen) 13. Gypsy In My Soul (T) 3:17 (C. Boland-M. Jaffe) 14. Embraceable You (T) 4:51 (G. Gershwin-I Gershwin) 15. Misty (T) 5:26 (E. Garner-J. Burke) 16, As Long As There's Music (T) 4:02 (S. Cahn-J. Styne) 17. 'Round Midnight (T) 4:26 (Monk-Williams-Hanighen) 18. This Can't Be Love (T) 3:18 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 19. Blues Chorale (T) 3:54 (John La Porta) 20. Prelude (T) 1:24 (Alexandre Sciabin, adapted by Johnny Smith)
1. My Romance (U) 2:11 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 2. Little Girl Blue (U) 2:32 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 3. Pavane (U) 1:32 (Maurice Ravel) 4. Prelude (U) 1:30 (Alexandre Scraibin, adapted by Johnny Smith) 5. Black Is The Color (Of My True Love's Hair) (U) 2:44 (Adapted by Johnny Smith) 6. Wait Till You See Her (U) 2:04 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 7. The Maid With The Flaxen Hair (U) 2:56 (Claude Debussy, adapted by Johnny Smith) 8. Shenandoah (U) 2:27 (Adapted by Johnny Smith) 9. Green Leaves Of Summer (U) 2:49 (D. Tiomkin-P. F. Webster) 10. My Funny Valentine (U) 3:13 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 11. Dancing In The Dark (U) 2:37 (H. Dietz-A. Schwartz) 12. Old Folks (U) 2:32 (W. Robison-D. Hill) 13. I Loves You Porgy (U) 2:27 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 14. Soon (V) 2:21 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) 15. There'll Be Other Times (V) 4:32 (Marian McPartland) 16. Satin's Doll (V) 5:04 (Johnny Smith) 17. I'm Old Fashioned (V) 1:54 (J. Kern-J. Mercer) 18. I Remember You (V) 2:47 (J. Mercer-V. Schertzinger) 19. Fitz (V) 4:28 (Gene Roland) 20. Li'l Darlin' (V) 3:55 (Neal Hefti) 21. Time After Time (V) 3:30 (J. Styne-S. Cahn) 22. You Are Too Beautiful (V) 3:47 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 23. Sweet and Lovely (V) 3:29 (Arnheim-Tobins-Lemare)