The great swing violinist Stuff Smith had not recorded as a leader since 1945 when producer Norman Granz got him to make three albums for Verve during a three-month period. Smith, who was still very much in his prime, recorded 11 selections (one previously unissued) with pianist Carl Perkins, either Red Callender or Curtis Counce on bass and Oscar Bradley or Frank Butler on drums (Have Violin Will Swing), jammed nine numbers (three released for the first time here) with the Oscar Peterson Trio (for the album titled Stuff Smith), and on five tunes teamed up with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and a rhythm section (Dizzy Gillespie-Stuff Smith); all are reissued in full on this generous two-CD set from 1994. In each of the settings, the violinist excels, making this an easily recommended and very satisfying release.
For the first time in her career, Blues diva Dana Gillespie releases a live album. After four studio sets for Ace, dating back to 1982's Blue Job, this CD is released in response to the demand by her audiences around the world. Recorded with the London Blues Band in Poole in 2006, the set features the dynamic guitar skills of Dino Baptiste. No fancy studio tweaks are used here. Dana and the Band cut the mustard, with the very highest level of musicianship, spiced up with a lot of fun, to create this straight-ahead record of a fabulous gig from a great singer with a great band.
This is a somewhat unusual Oscar Peterson record (a CD reissue) in a number of ways. Peterson (along with flugelhornist Clark Terry, bassist Dave Young, drummer Jerry Fuller and either Peter Leitch or Ed Bickert on guitar) performs 13 songs either written or popularized by Canadians. In addition he sings the majority of the tunes in his Nat King Cole-influenced voice and contributes two new songs of his own. The repertoire includes some familiar standards ("Some of These Days," "I'll Never Smile Again," "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" and "Sweethearts on Parade"), jazz versions of a few pop tunes (including "Spinning Wheel") and a few obscurities.
The Oscar Peterson Trio with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen lacked the competitiveness of his earlier group with Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis, and the later daring of his solo performances, but the pianist was generally in peak form during this era. He sticks to standards on this live CD (a good example of the Trio's playing), stretching out "Sometimes I'm Happy" creatively for over 11 minutes and uplifting such songs as "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," "Chicago" and "The Night We Called It a Day." Few surprises occur, but Peterson plays at such a consistently high level that one doesn't mind.