Our fourteenth feature for Blue Note 75 for 75 is Louis Smith’s gem of a record, Smithville: an album so underrated as to be almost unknown. Dig the magnificent, easy-swingin’ title track:
I reviewed this album years ago and this is what I had to say about it:
What a gem! I’d never even heard of Louis Smith and — wham! — this album knocks me out. There are so many great little jazz albums like this: obscure and outstanding. It certainly helps to have the backing Smith does: Charlie Rouse, Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers, Art Taylor– that’s a great band! There was just so much talent around at this time that a small pick-up session like this ends up being a minor masterpiece. Louis Smith, clearly inspired by the company he keeps, shines his way to the top of each track with a clear, strong tone and inventive soloing. Makes one wonder why we didn’t hear more of him. Everyone else is their usual self (ie. excellent) with Rouse turning in one barn-burning solo after another, even the ballads can’t escape his fiery tones and unusual phrasing. And when their horns lock together, Rouse and Smith sound like a match made in heaven, especially on the slow blues title track. This album, recently re-released, is passionate and proud– bebop at its finest.
Stay tuned for more from Blue Note 75 for 75…