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by Mike Neely
A half-century after Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, and Bud Powell made names for themselves in the world of jazz, it is more than likely that if these three giants somehow returned to play in New York City they would still be at the very top of the heap among their fellow musicians. A similar claim could be made for another musician, Johnny Smith, who is barely known except among jazz guitar aficionados.
Smith played most of his professional ...read more
by Chris May
Woefully obscure and unlauded today, Johnny Smith's early '50s recordings make him as important to the development of jazz guitar as his contemporaries Stan Getz and Al Haig are to the history of the tenor saxophone and the piano. Johnny who?
For a very short while, Smith was a star. His '52 single Moonlight In Vermont," featuring Getz, came out of nowhere--Smith was then an anonymous staff musician at NBC, New York--to become a massive coast-to-coast US radio ...read more
by Jack Bowers
To mark the Count Basie Orchestra's silver anniversary in 1960, Roulette Records released a double album comprised of updated versions of many of the band's classic recordings from those twenty-five years. This double-disc set, one of two issued by Roulette to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Basie's birth (the other is Count Basie & Friends ), embodies the twenty-six songs renovated during those sessions in 1957-60.
As most of the old arrangements had been memorized by the band, and others ...read more
by Jack Bowers
To honor the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the incomparable Count Basie (August 21, 1904), Roulette Records has gone to the vaults and unearthed recordings made by the Basie Orchestra and smaller groups spanning the years 1957-62 when the Count was working for Roulette. All of the material on the two-disc set was previously issued, either on albums or as singles, and there are guest artists on a number of tracks (hence the title Basie & Friends ).
Neal ...read more
by Chris May
This may be the greatest forgotten" jazz album of its time.
Moonlight In Vermont" was originally released as the B side of a single in '52. Its lush, gorgeous, laid back groove--caressed into life by Smith and Stan Getz--made it an immediate radio hit and it was voted Jazz Record Of The Year by Downbeat.
Over subsequent decades, Moonlight In Vermont" and the eponymous album to which it gave birth (originally two 10" issues titled Jazz At NBC ) have ...read more
by AAJ Staff
Could it be that two of the greatest geniuses contributing to the development of jazz music were born a mere year apart? Yes, it could be. No, it may not be. Well, it depends on the legitimacy of a birth and the authenticity of records. Louis Armstrong, not knowing his actual birth date and unabashedly proud of his native country, asserted that he was born on July 4, 1900. A baptismal certificate discovered years after that assertion shows ...read more