Many improvisers would agree that having the feeling of the blues is a crucial part of jazz expression; however, the jazz and blues worlds don't interact nearly as often as they should. There are jazz musicians who will play Miles Davis' "All Blues" or Charlie Parker's "Parker's Mood" on a regular basis but wouldn't know John Lee Hooker from Little Milton; there are blues artists who are much more likely to work with a rock musician than a jazz musician. So it is a rare treat to hear a blues-oriented guitarist and a jazz-oriented guitarist co-leading a session, which is exactly what happens on More Conversations in Swing Guitar. This 2003 release is a sequel to bluesman Duke Robillard and jazzman Herb Ellis' 1999 encounter Conversations in Swing Guitar, and the CD proves that good things can happen when jazz and blues players interact. More Conversations in Swing Guitar is an album of very blues-minded instrumental jazz – it's hardly a carbon copy of Robillard's work with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, but the bluesman has no problem appearing in a jazz-oriented setting.
Reissue with SHM-CD format and new 24bit remastering. The Johnny Smith sound is a wonderful one – not just the sound that he makes with his groundbreaking work on the strings of the guitar, but also the way he records the instrument – which set a new standard in jazz guitar albums, and also helped pave the way for countless generations to come! A date like this is a great example of the standard-setting work that Smith was able to give us in his prime – and the approach slightly updates the Smith guitar sound of the early 50s – clarifying it a bit, but still keeping that great tone right out front – with a group that includes Hank Jones on piano, George Duvivier on bass, and Ed Shaughnessey on drums.
Three overlapping groups are heard from here, and they revisit the repertoire of the McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans of 1927 (playing new versions of the four songs originally recorded) and Bud Freeman's 1939-1940 Summa Cum Laude Orchestra. The two septets and the octet feature such immortal Condonites as tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman; Jimmy McPartland and Billy Butterfield on trumpets; trombonists Tyree Glenn and Jack Teagarden (who also takes some vocals); clarinetists Pee Wee Russell and Peanuts Hucko; pianists Gene Schroeder and Dick Cary; rhythm guitarist Al Casamenti (but surprisingly no Eddie Condon); bassists Milt Hinton, Al Hall, and Leonard Gaskin; and drummer George Wettling. The veterans were all still in prime form at the time, and they sound quite inspired.