Johnny Smith: The Man, The Legend
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, of which Guild Guitars was a subsidiary, asked Smith if he would be willing to return his endorsement to the Guild Artist Award. Familiar with Schultz's management, and knowing that the construction would be supervised by master luthier Bob Benedetto, Smith agreed. The Guild Johnny Smith Award by Benedetto was available through Guild dealers until early 2006 when Benedetto left Fender.
Johnny Smith's Approach To Chord Melodies
"The hardest thing to do on the guitar is to play a melodic chord progression in smooth, even fashion without leaving space between chords," he told the Colorado Springs Independent. "Then one day I noticed how an organist managed to keep a tone going between chords by holding down one of the notes of the chord while he pivoted to the next chord. I picked up on that and applied it to chord progressions on the guitar." There are some players out there who claim Johnny wasn't a real jazz guitarist. There was a point in my life that I felt the same way. He didn't swing the way Wes Montgomery did, or had a deep bluesy feeling like Kenny Burrell or Grant Green, but as I go back every so often and listen to him, I can hear the beauty in his playing and that has it's own kind of soul. And every so often when he stops playing scales and arpeggios, he plays single lines that are loose and swing.
For those of you who are interested in hearing his work, Mosaic Records put out a box set of his recordings a few years ago called, The Complete Roost Johnny Smith Small Group Session.
No matter how you cut it, Johnny Smith brought a level of excellence to guitar playing that will exist forever. And for that, I will be eternally grateful to him.