Johnny Smith is an exquisite jazz guitarist known mostly to fellow musicians and serious jazz fans. This beautifully packaged and expertly annotated eight-CD limited-edition boxed set from Mosaic includes his complete small-group recordings for Roost, most of which have languished out of print for decades. Smith's unique voicings on his instrument set him apart from other players, yet he maintains a lush, crystal-clear tone no matter the tempo or setting.
In Concert – Carnegie Hall is George Benson's final recording for Creed Taylor's CTI label, and was mostly recorded on one night in 1975. There was some additional recording done at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1976, where Taylor replaced the original rhythm section of Wayne Dockery on bass and Marvin Chapell on drums with Will Lee and Steve Gadd, for whatever reason Taylor had at the time. Regardless, this is a solid "live" effort with Benson cooking on all burners, beginning with a monster version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," which had been cut on an earlier album and had become a staple in the live set.
The independent jazz reissue label Mosaic Records garnered a rightful reputation as industry leaders and enthusiast favorites with deluxe and strictly limited-edition packages such as this one. The contents of this four-LP/three-CD collection are derived from two performances during the summer of 1954 and feature the Chet Baker Quartet: Baker (trumpet/"boom bam" percussion), Russ Freeman (piano), Carson Smith (bass), and Bob Neel (drums). The two performances – recorded July 21 at Santa Cruz's Civic Auditorium and August 10 at The Tiffany Club in Los Angeles, respectively – are presented chronologically.
This essential four-LP box set features trumpeter Chet Baker leading his own group during the 1953-1956 period (shortly after the breakup of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet) with pianist Russ Freeman, either Bob Whitlock, Carson Smith, Joe Mondragon, Jimmy Bond, or Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Bobby White, Larry Bunker, Shelly Manne, Bob Neel, Peter Littman, or Lawrence Marable on drums. Baker is heard at his coolest (mostly before he became influenced by Miles Davis); some of the later selections also feature his first recorded vocals. Because the Mosaic box sets are limited editions, they should be acquired as soon as possible.
The original Chico Hamilton Quintet was one of the last significant West Coast jazz bands of the cool era. Consisting of Buddy Collette on reeds (flute, clarinet, alto, and tenor), guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Carson Smith, and the drummer/leader, the most distinctive element in the group's identity was cellist Fred Katz. The band could play quite softly, blending together elements of bop and classical music into their popular sound and occupying their own niche. This six-CD, limited-edition box set from 1997 starts off with a Hamilton drum solo from a 1954 performance with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet; it contains three full albums and many previously unreleased numbers) by the original Chico Hamilton band and also has quite a few titles from the second Hamilton group (which has Paul Horn and John Pisano in the places of Collette and Hall).