Selected Track: Smithville.
An easy pace relaxing twelve bar jazz-blues. If you are in the mood, you might just try singing along to it, “They call it Stormy Monday” in the manner of Chris Farlowe.
Louis Smith (tp) Charlie Rouse (ts) Sonny Clark (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, March 30, 1958
Smith enjoyed a short recording career, his few recordings enhanced by the calibre of his sidesmen. After two Blue Note albums in the late Fifties he turned for the next twenty years to teaching, coming back briefly for a few sessions in the late Seventies.
The Allmusic review awarded the album 4 stars and stated “Stylistically, there are no surprises here — this is mainstream bop and hard bop, comprised of original and contemporary bop numbers, as well as standards… It’s a first-rate hard bop set that deserves wider distribution than it has received”
Bop bop bop
Vinyl: United Artists 1975 remastered BLP 1594
An experiment. Being a fan of Division of United Artists independently mastered releases 1970-3 I had a heads up from a blog poster Carlos about some substandard audio performance of a Division of United Artists 1975 series I personally had never seen – a doomed second attempt to revive the blue & white classic Blue Note brand. The chance came up to put them to the test with a copy of Louis Smith’s 1958 Blue Note Smithville, whose mouth-watering line up includes Sonny Clark and Charlie Rouse. It is my only 1975 Division of United Artists, still 38 years old. A bonus if it sounds OK, a lesson learned if it doesn’t, and I am not going to come across an affordable original.
What does it sound like? You can be the judge. I think it’s quite acceptable. It lacks the sharp edge of original/ Plastylite but that said, its an enjoyable listen and didn’t have me reach for the off switch, which happens usually within five to ten seconds of a poor pressing. If there is any weakness it may be in RVG’s miking of the drums, which is a bit “one mike pointing in the general direction of the drums”. But everything else is tuneful and has a good presence. Paul Chambers loping bass is particularly full-bodied and tuneful.
The cover is distinctive, with Louis standing cheerily standing at a bus stop which clearly says “No Standing”. Is the bus stop significant? When I was in America last, some twenty years back, I was told in no uncertain terms: “No one in this country is so poor that they can not afford a car. No one takes the bus” . 1958, different strokes for different folks?
This follows the pattern of other Division of United Artists -1 and -2. No Van Gelder stamp, and this time, no engineers initials (NB or Egk often found on the 70-3 issues)
The 1975 series bears the full corporate name …Music And Records Group, and “P” production date 1975, on the label in the area previously used for the artists names, . Lots of emphasis on who hold the publishing rights, who is due royalties, all legalese for the money flow, but no room for the musicians. Sign of changing times.
Like the 70-3 series, a perfect facsimile paste-up of the original 1958 mono rear cover, but without the defunct Blue Note addresses. It always cheers me up when I see that big friendly four digit catalogue number in the top right corner. Collectors often refer to Blue Notes by just the catalogue number. It’s an insider secret language, you are supposed to know. There are only about 800 to learn.
Sellers Description: “SMITHVILLE” – Louis Smith – Blue Note BLP 1594 – blue/white, “United Artists address, mono pressing (circa 1975) – kind of a scarce pressing! – lovely hardbop date from this trumpeter, with Charlie Rouse, Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers, Art Taylor! – vinyl grade is VG+ (strong) – cover grade is VG+ (strong) – cut corner
Amazing music at a giveaway price!”
Not wrong about the price. The postage was just a bit more than the record. I can live with that, for a nice record.