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With the Henry Chaix Trio: Late Woman Blues

Stuff Smith

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Album Review

Stuff Smith spent the final two years of his life performing in Europe; this previously unreleased Swiss concert from 1965 was finally released some 36 years later. The violinist is accompanied by stride pianist Henri Chaix, young bassist Michel Guillemin, and fellow American expatriate Wallace Bishop (who had resided in Europe since 1950) on drums. Smith is in top form, though the inexperience of the bassist is rather obvious during the awkward introduction to "Perdido"; fortunately, things improve rapidly afterwards. In addition to his swinging fiddle, Smith's hoarse vocals are a riot in his "Late Woman Blues" (also known as "Blues in B Flat"), while he breaks up one of his sidemen with his singing of "On the Sunny Side of the Street." The instrumentals are mostly familiar to Smith's fans, including "Take the 'A' Train" and "How High the Moon," though it is the adventurous and occasionally dissonant take of "Body and Soul," a standard rarely played by the violinist, that takes top honors. The sound is very good for such a vintage recording. Swing fans will consider this long-hidden treasure to be an essential CD.

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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With the Henry Chaix Trio: Late Woman Blues, Stuff Smith
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