221

Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell: Stride Piano Duets. Live In Toronto 1966

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell: Stride Piano Duets. Live In Toronto 1966 The more time passes, the starker the light thrown on a release like this. This is a point that can't be emphasized enough when it comes to something like the stride piano style and Delmark deserves high praise indeed for putting in the work necessary to get this music out there.

Smith was arguably the greatest stride exponent, but it would be a little misleading to suggest that Ewell was a relative acolyte, especially in view of the fact that as duettists they dovetail to such a degree that it's impossible to tell where one man's input ends and the other man's begins. "Sweet Georgia Brown" is a case in point, and not merely because the two men manage to make it sound like anything but the hackneyed ditty that it is.

Any joy of life implicit in that one is more than obvious in the medley of "Linger Awhile/Shine" where Smith's vocal is the epitome of that joy. Indeed throughout this program it's clear that he was intent on living up to some larger than life persona, and he does it with such relish that the listener would have to have a heart of stone not to get caught up in it.

Even when the mood is relatively tranquil, as it unsurprisingly is on "If I Could Be With You," there's still that spirit born only of life lived to the full and without a care for tomorrow. In a sense, of course, this throws up a problem in so far as that joy referred to above seems to be the preserve of the world from which Smith in particular came. "I Found A New Baby" makes the point in no uncertain terms, especially as even the straightforward reading of the melody seems simultaneously to be subjected to a variety of dissection.

Smith is alone on "Here Comes The Band," a title which in the circumstances may or may not be ironic. Being the character that he is, he makes the most of it regardless of such issues. Again the life is singular and the depth of it is never in any doubt. It's good for what ails you, but then when the likes of Smith and Ewell are at the helm it couldn't possibly be any other way.


Track Listing: Relaxin'; Blue Skies; I Found A New Baby; Tea For Two; Charleston; You're Driving Me Crazy; Here Comes The Band; Sweet Georgia Brown; Georgia On My Mind; Linger Awhile/Shine; If I Could Be With You; Just You, Just Me; Squeeze Me; Twelfth Street Rag.

Personnel: Willie "The Lion" Smith: piano, vocals (10, 11) Don Ewell: piano.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "We Drift Meridian" CD/LP/Track Review We Drift Meridian
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 15, 2016
Read "Inner Agent" CD/LP/Track Review Inner Agent
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "Harmonicus Rex" CD/LP/Track Review Harmonicus Rex
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Until Your Throat Is Dry" CD/LP/Track Review Until Your Throat Is Dry
by John Sharpe
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "Alameda Gardens" CD/LP/Track Review Alameda Gardens
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 22, 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!