Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

375

The Johnny Smith Quintet: Moonlight In Vermont

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
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 gradually faded from view: Smith, a studio musician at NBC and regular performer at Birdland for much of the Fifties, more or less retired from performance in the early Sixties and his work has since been out of catalogue more often than it has been in.

An uncannily symmetrical 52 years after its first release, Moonlight In Vermont must now be a strong contender for Jazz Reissue Of The Year. The sixteen tracks, recorded between March '52 and August '53, include the original eight with Getz and a further eight with Getz replaced by either Zoot Sims or Paul Quinchette. The music is meticulously arranged, the harmonic development rich and sophisticated, and the performances, particularly those of Smith, Getz and the "first choice" rhythm section of Gold, Safranski and Lamond, technically awesome; the up-tempo unison passages by Smith and Getz especially are jawdroppingly masterful.

Yet Smith never uses technique for its own sake. Throughout, his rapid fire single note runs (every bit as jetspeed as Tal Farlow's, but more sparingly used) and innovative chordal theme statements and solos (truly harmolodic inventions) are just—there's no other word—heavenly. Like the title track, much of the album is lush, gorgeous and laid back, but there is plenty of fire and energy here too.

Still, gloriously and evocatively, in the original mono, the album has been lovingly remastered in 24-bit by Malcolm Addey. If you like Django, Charlie Christian and/or Wes Montgomery, do yourself an immense favour and check it out.

Kinda Interesting Factoid : Somewhat unexpectedly, Johnny Smith is the composer of "Walk Don't Run," that massive, twanging, primeval rock 'n' roll hit for the Ventures in '60. The royalties allowed Smith to relocate from NYC to bucolic Colorado. His lifestyle gain perhaps, but our listening loss for sure.


Track Listing: Where Or When; Tabu; Moonlight In Vermont; Jaguar; Stars Fell On Alabama; Tenderly; (I Don't Stand A) Ghost Of A Chance; Vilia; Cavu; I'll Be Around; Yesterdays; Cherokee; Sometimes I'm Happy; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Jaguar (alternate version); My Funny Valentine.

Personnel: Johnny Smith, guitar; Stan Getz or Zoot Sims or Paul Quinchette, tenor sax; Sanford Gold, piano; Eddie Safranski or Bob Carter or Arnold Fiskin, bass; Don Lamond or Morey Feld, drums.

Title: Moonlight In Vermont | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Roulette Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "The Elements" CD/LP/Track Review The Elements
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Fountain Of Youth" CD/LP/Track Review Fountain Of Youth
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "High Time" CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Calvins Toboggan" CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Silent Light" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Infância" CD/LP/Track Review Infância
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 3, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!