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Album Review

Violinists Stéphane Grappelli and Stuff Smith performed together on a few occasions, but this 1965 studio session, first issued by Barclay, was one of the more difficult dates to acquire until Universal Music reissued it on CD in 2002, as a part of their extensive Jazz in Paris series. With a solid rhythm section (pianist René Urtreger, bassist Michel Gaudry, and drummer Michel Delaporte) that pretty much sticks to a supporting role, it is clear that Smith's gritty tone rubs off on Grappelli as the session progresses. Highlights include Smith's "Blues in the Dungeon" (during which Grappelli playfully alternates between playing pizzicato and arco to back Smith's hoarse but swinging vocal) and an equally playful, swinging take of "This Can't Be Love." Jazz violin fans may give Smith the nod over Grappelli on this date, but both men obviously enjoyed themselves during the making of this disc. The glorious 24-bit remastering produces sound that is greatly improved over the tinny Everest LP reissued under Smith's name during the 1970s.

Biography

Born: 14 August 1909 in Portsmouth, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Stuff Smith was one of the big three of pre-bop violinists along with Joe Venuti and Stephane Grappelli. Many of his fans said that he could outswing all of his competitors, and certainly Stuff was a major force on the bandstand. Smith, who cited Louis Armstrong as his main influence, studied music with his father and played with the family band as a child. His first major job and recordings were with Alphonse Trent's territory band in the 1920s, but it was not until 1936 that he had his breakthrough....
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Stuff And Steff, Stuff Smith
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