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Album Review

Violinist Stuff Smith's recording career was a bit erratic, so every new release is greeted with much anticipation by fans of the swinging violinist. But Hot Stuff is actually a compilation of two earlier, out of print Storyville CDs, containing all nine tracks from Smith's Live at the Montmartre and four duets with violinist Svend Asmussen taken from Hot Violins. Smith is joined by expatriate pianist Kenny Drew, the young virtuoso bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and drummer Alex Riel at the Montmatre. Highlights include a blazing rendition of "Take the 'A' Train" and his own "Timme's Blues" (saluting the gadfly producer Baron Timme Rosenkrantz), the latter of which features the hottest solos of the evening. The songs from a year later feature violinist Svend Asmussen joining Smith in a live recording made for Danish radio, along with pianist Jorgen Borch, bassist Erik Molback, and drummer Bjarne Rostvold. There's quite a bit of vocal banter in "C Jam Blues," with Smith toying with the lyrics to "Duke's Place" and clearly taking his own path as Asmussen plays a pizzicato line behind him. "Caravan" is especially exotic, as Asmussen switches to a tenor violin, while their unusually slow introduction establishes a catchy vamp before they revert to a swinging mode. Asmussen is thrown by Smith's ad-libbed vocal introduction to "Oh, Lady Be Good," though he recovers quickly to trade scatted choruses with the American and even scats in unison with his violin. This CD should be considered essential for anyone who enjoys jazz violin.

Hot Stuff, Stuff Smith Quartet
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