CONRAD S. (conrad777) from ENGLEWD CLFS, NJ Reviewed on 2/25/2007...
Excellent Stuff Smith 2 CD set, duplicated on the Mosaic box set.
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Incredible swing by Stuff Smith,the king of violin
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | BESANCON France | 02/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ezekiah Leroy Gordon SMITH (1909-1967) certainly was the greatest violin player in the jazz history (but we only can name a few musicians playing this very difficult instrument : Joe Venuti,Eddie South,Ray Nance,Claude Williams,and in France,Stéphane Grapelli,Michel Warlop,Georges Effrosse) but also one of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz.This two-cd set includes three original Verve lps,and some unissued tracks.
On cd 1,tracks 1-11 were originally issued as "Have violin,will swing" (track 11 is an unissued tune).Stuff plays with the great and underrated Carl Perkins on piano,Red Callender or Curtis Counce on bass,and Frank Butler or Oscar Bradley on drums.Stuff's swing and mastery of his instrument is exceptionnal and outstanding through these tracks,and each tune is a real delight.A rare moment of perfection.Listening to these tunes,the idea that Coleman Hawkins was Stuff's main influence comes to my mind.And listen to him:his harsh,definitive,hard swinging way of playing is very close to Bean's tenor sax playing.Eleven tracks of very great jazz music.
Disc one,tracks 12-16 and disc two,tracks 1-4 were issued as "Stuff Smith" on Verve;Stuff plays with a superlative trio: Oscar Peterson,piano,Ray Brown,bass,and Alvin Stoller,drums.Stuff's tune,"desert sand",is outstanding.Few jazz musicians ever swang like this.In this tune,Stuff is at the same level of genius than Django Reinhardt,Lester Young,Coleman Hawkins or Ben Webster;Stoller's brushes are perfect,and there's no need to talk about Oscar.Oh,I forgot to tell you that there's a guitar player in this session (he isn't mentionned on the jacket,thanks for the producer,but he's Barney Kessel).This tune,with Barney Kessel paying tribute to his main influence,Charlie Christian,truly is a great masterpiece."Soft winds" is Benny Goodman's tune,a great moment of swing."It don't mean a thing",Duke's anthem,offers us great choruses by Peterson and Kessel.Be sure that the other tunes will offer you the same things!
cd two,tracks 5-9,are an historic meeting betwwen Stuff Smith and Dizzy Gillespie.Wynton Kelly,J.C.Heard and Paul West are here."Rio Pakistan",a Dizzy's tune,is an 11 minutes long magic moment."Rusian lullaby",a tune that was also played by John Coltrane and Oscar Aleman,among others,is another great moment.
THis two cd-set is a great opportunity to discover a very underrated jazz player,Mr Stuff Smith,who decided to play one of the most dificult of all instruments.After some hard years,when his music was by long forgotten,he died in Munich,Germany,in 1967,aged 58.Now, I think it's time to discover this man and his music,an essential link in the jazz history."
The incomparable Stuff Smith
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 03/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stuff Smith is one of the more unfortunately neglected musicians in jazz--he ought to be as well-known as Grappelli, though his style is quite the opposite of Grappelli's, & also rather different from Venuti too. Smith's playing avoided sweetness & vibrato-laden sentiment, for a tough but melodic style that owed more to horn players. His 1930s work is very much worth a listen; this 2CD set combines 3 1957 sessions he did for Verve.The sessions combine one excellent date, one very good one, & one merely OK session--in that order. The best stuff here comes first--a terrific pair of sessions which matches Smith with a West Coast band. The personnel changes between the sessions, but on the first date it's the rhythm section of the Curtis Counce band of the time--the great Carl Perkins on piano, Counce on bass, Frank Butler on drums. On the second it's Perkins again, but Red Callender & Oscar Bradley on bass & drums--a small pity, but it's still great to have Smith & Perkins together in the studio. -- The 2nd album has Smith with the Oscar Peterson Quartet (not "Trio" as the liner notes have it: for some reason Barney Kessel is not credited in the personnel listings). Fine stuff, where Peterson generally is surprisingly discreet--only on "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" does the patented Peterson attacking swing come into play.The third album is an encounter with Dizzy Gillespie. It's a sometimes sloppy in-the-studio jam which throws up some decent music--how could it not, with Smith, Gillespie & Wynton Kelly on hand?--but for the most part is Just Another 1950s Verve Jam Session. There's a vaguely "world-music" minor blues, "Rio Pakistan" (dumb title--it's a samba rhythm), & a Gillespie rip-off of his own "Birks' Works", called "Purple Sounds". Plus an unnecessary vocal group added on one track.In any case, this set is a worthwhile reissue of a mixed but interesting bag of music."
P. COOK | 04/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 2 CD set brings together three albums : "Stuff Smith;" "Have Violin Will Swing" and "Dizzy Gillespie-Stuff Smith" They were all recorded in 1957. Each has an excellent rhythm section. It is a good introduction to Smith's work. Known in some circles as the 'palpitating Paganini' he is a complete opposite to Grapelli bringing much blues feel into his playing. In my opinion, an important reissue of an important player."
Swingin violin jazz
Joel Sawyer | Minneapolis | 06/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Little known jazz violinist Stuff Smith really swings on this 2 CD set, consisting of three previously rare lps. Joining Smith on a number of tracks are Oscar Peterson on piano and Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet. Both sound inspired by the unusual pairing and, along with Smith, play some enjoyable music."