Complete 1936-1937 Sessions

Complete 1936-1937 Sessions

by Stuff SmithStuff Smith


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With pieces like "I'se a Muggin'" and "You'se a Viper," it's easy to dismiss jazz violinist Stuff Smith as a novelty and jive act, which is a shame, since his early bands were exciting, driving ensembles, and thanks to Smith's horn-like approach to the violin, completely unlike any other bands before or since. This delightful set combines sessions held in February, March, July and August of 1936 (originally released by Vocalion Records) with a session from May of 1937 (released by Decca Records) and adds in three live broadcast tracks from a pair of shows in 1936 and another from 1937 at the Onyx Club in New York. The end result is darn near seamless and spotlights a band that swings like the building is on fire. "I'se a Muggin'" is collected here in two parts (with an alternate version of one) and as a live performance. "You'se a Viper" is also here, but there's so much more to marvel at, like the rapid and breezy "I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music" and the storming "Twilight in Turkey." Smith's horn approach to the violin, even drawing the bow in such a way as to mimic the breath pauses of a horn player, is highlighted on the wonderful "Robins and Roses," which is all the proof anyone should ever need that Smith was far more than a novelty act. Oh, he was novel, certainly, since no one else plays the violin like that, and he could undoubtedly jive with the best of them, but make no mistake, his mid-'30s bands were as exciting as any around, and Smith deserves more acclaim than he generally receives as a jazz innovator and bandleader. This set is a wonderful place to enter Stuff's amazing world.

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