Johnny Smith, by Grant Stoner
My album pick for this month is the self-titled “Johnny Smith” Verve 1967 vinyl. For those in the know, Johnny Smith is one of the great jazz guitarists. He wrote the famous surf instrumental standard “Walk, Don’t Run”. His “Moonlight in Vermont” was a hit in 1952 at the start of the cool west coast jazz scene. He blends melodic subtlety with amazing virtuosity, making you tense up at a single note or drop your jaw at a dazzlingly fast run.
This album “Johnny Smith” features Hank Jones on piano, George Duvivier on bass and Don Lamond on drums. Not a very up front recording, even the cookers are kinda laid back, drums to the left, piano on the right, guitar and bass in the middle. Nice standards like “Manha de Carnival” and “Shadow of your Smile”, a few Beatles tunes, etc.… got a perfect rendering with occasional Oscar Peterson type flourishes. Solo guitar tunes like “Golden Earrings” are beautiful and ripping at the same time. He plays a Gibson Johnny Smith signature archtop, getting a nice clean tone, and very acoustic sounding on the solo tunes.
A really nice laid back, but amazing album to chill out with.