November 15, 2005
Jazz, Jazz Instrument, Piano Jazz, Piano Blues, Early Jazz, Stride

Album Review

This sixth volume in the Classics Willie "The Lion" Smith chronology is packed with exceptionally fine music, beginning with seven Commodore piano solos recorded near the end of 1950. The Lion is in excellent form here -- his thunderously percussive rendition of Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" could serve as a sort of primal preface to Cecil Taylor's 1959 reconstitution of Porter's "Get Out of Town." The Lion's Blue Circle session of August 15, 1953, features a robust little band with a front line of trumpeter Henry Goodwin, trombonist Jimmy Archey, and reedman Cecil Scott. Myra Johnson, Fats Waller's feisty touring vocalist during the late '30s and early '40s, chips in with a rowdy reading of "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Stop It, Joe," a James P. Johnson composition erroneously credited here to Willie "The Lion" Smith. The instrumental tracks from this session, "The Lion Steps Out," "Willie's Blues," and "The Romp," are wonderfully hot traditional jazz of the highest order. "Background Music for a Cocktail Party" has laughter and conversation running continuously in the background, and appears to be an early example of looped mood-adjustment overdubbing. This marvelous compilation closes with a pair of duets with drummer Keg Purnell and a veritable mini-album of eight piano solos based on melodies by James P. Johnson. This series begins and ends with Smith's masterpiece "Echoes of Spring," referred to here as "The Lion's Theme."
arwulf arwulf, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  2. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
  3. Just One of Those Things
  4. Madelon
  5. Hallelujah
  6. Poor Butterfly
  7. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  8. The Lion Steps Out
  9. When the Saints Go Marching In
  10. Willie's Blues
  11. Stop It Joe
  12. The Romp
  13. Background Music for a Cocktail Party
  14. Carolina Shout
  15. Hoity Toiti
  16. The Lion's Theme (Echoes of Spring) [Charleston]
  17. Old Fashioned Love
  18. The Mule Walk
  19. If I Could Be with You
  20. Caprice Rag
  21. A Porter's Love Song to a Chambermaid
  22. Carolina Shout
  23. Daintiness -- The Lion's Theme (Echoes of Spring)