120

Johnny Smith with Friends Mark Holzinger and Chris Justin: San Francisco Bay Jazz

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Johnny Smith with Friends Mark Holzinger and Chris Justin: San Francisco Bay Jazz Johnny Smith may not be a musical household name, but his rural Missouri roots and Uncle Delaney and Aunt Bonnie Bramlett gave him some serious soul bona fides. Following a musical youth and a stint in the Marines, Smith returned to his second home of Southern California, skirting big fame, making smart and informed pop music.

Now having relocated to the Bay Area, Smith has put together a vibrantly smart trio with guitarist Mark Holzinger and bassist Chris Justin. Smith contributes his acoustic Martin D35, harmonica, and the most expressive vocal capability this side of Joe Cocker. Smith sews all of these elements into a quilt with the Great American Songbook, and the results are beyond refreshing: they are elemental.

Smith recasts several Sinatra warhorses, repackaging them for a new generation. The opener, "I've Got You Under My Skin, and "That Old Devil Moon kick things off in style. Add "Fly Me to the Moon, "There Will Never Be Another You and "Come Rain or Come Shine, and you have a mini-tribute to the Chairman of the Board. These songs are all dispatched with the primacy of folk blues and the rustic all-American vernacular of Smith, scrubbing them so fresh that the listener may gasp. But this Sinatra homage is merely the cream.

Miles Davis' "All Blues is given a down-home treatment with Smith's rural harmonica and Midwestern delivery. I will bet few people have ever heard Miles covered like this. The pinnacle of the disc is the trifecta of soul jazz: Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Bobby Timmons' "Moanin' and Horace Silver's "Song for my Father. Smith's densely expressive soul brogue sends these songs over the top. Instrumentally, San Francisco Bay Jazz sounds like a California version of Le Hot Club du France, coupling Smith's acoustic guitar with Holzinger's electric. Justin holds his own with a left-handed 4/4, keeping all the pieces skipping along. The tipple point is reached on "Moanin' for all three instumentalists.

Recordings like San Francisco Bay Blues make writing about music a true pleasure. The stars are in line for Johnny Smith et al. and for us listeners also. This is an end-or-the-year pick for sure.

Visit Johnny Smith on the web.


Track Listing: Ive Got You Under My Skin; Old Devil Moon; All Blues; Is You Is, Or Is You Aint My Baby; Fly Me To The Moon; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; There Will Never Be Another You; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Moanin; More; Song For My Father; Deep Purple.

Personnel: Johnny Smith: guitar, harmonica, vocals; Mark Holzinger: guitar; Christ Justin: bass.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Madjafalao" CD/LP/Track Review Madjafalao
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Onwards To Mars!" CD/LP/Track Review Onwards To Mars!
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "For The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review For The Unknown
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 6, 2016
Read "Yellow Red Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Yellow Red Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Warp" CD/LP/Track Review Warp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!