Friday, October 09, 2009

Lavay Smith, Miss Smith To You, Fat Note Records

I don't just love Lavay Smith, I LUV Lavay Smith, so the release of her first CD in 9 long years (and only her 3rd ever) is an occasion in my house. These things strike me. You can think of the evolution of her singing as more Bessie Smith then and more Big Momma Thornton now, or more young Billie Holiday then, and more older Billie Holiday now. A little heavier, a little slower, but maybe even more emotive in its relative maturity.

Her big band, the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, was love-worthy then and, in my estimation, is stunning now, see the Bill Oritz trumpet solo on the Duke's (and Billy Strayhorn's) It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) and the Charles McNeal alto sax solos on Dizzy Gillespie's 'Deed I Do and Daddy, an original, of which there are a few on this, a bonus. (Bessie and Big Momma would have made hay with I'm Not Evil.) The take of On The Sunny Side Of The Street kills and they do a rousing (like it couldn't be) When The Saints Go Marching In and an appropriately languid I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues. Band guys sing Pops-style with regularity on this, check out trumpeter Danny Armstrong on Basie's Boogie Woogie (I May Be Wrong), and it just works. Gold as far as I'm concerned.

They're playing at Yoshi's in San Francisco on Halloween and how I wish I was going to be there.

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