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 ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Infância" CD/LP/Track Review Infância
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Common Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Common Ground
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Sunshine! Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review Sunshine! Quartet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Gateway" CD/LP/Track Review Gateway
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Someone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" CD/LP/Track Review For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.