Willie Smith: Alto Sax All-Time Great - His 48 Finest 1934-1956
Willie Smith (1910-1967) stands alongside Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter as one of the three great alto saxophone players of the pre-Charlie Parker generation – yet this is the first double CD devoted to his formidable artistry. Retrospective’s tribute to this towering figure in jazz history presents a 48-track survey that tracks his extraordinary career from sax-section leader in the 30s to high-flying soloist in the 50s, opening with 10 classics from his 13 years as one of the big stars of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra (Uptown Blues). He then joined Harry James’ band for many years, where his sensationally spectacular solo gifts perfectly matched James’ incomparable trumpet dash (10 prime examples include I’m Confessin’). A superb trio stem from his 1951 year with Duke Ellington (Please Be Kind), along with several exciting extracts from his many famous live performances with Jazz At The Philharmonic (How High The Moon). In addition, virtually all (a glorious dozen) of the small group recordings he led in 1945/7 are featured (Tea For Two), as well as a rare quartet of quartet numbers with Nat King Cole as “The Keynoters”. Here is an album that demands a place in every jazz lover’s collection.
"With detailed discographies and informative notes by Digby Fairweather this is... an overdue and fitting tribute to an unfairly neglected musician" John White, Jazz Journal