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Johnny Smith


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Johnny Smith - Discography

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Johnny Smith was famously unimpressed by his own recordings. He was of the opinion that the union-imposed limitations of studio time caused him to be more conservative in his performances. Furthermore, he modestly felt that there was always room for improvement. His earliest jazz releases were recorded as a sideman with legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams on the Asch label in 1947, and as a member of Benny Goodman’s sextet on the Columbia label in 1950 and 1951. These and numerous other recordings on which he appeared as a sideman throughout his career were released on various record labels (See the Official Biography for full details).

Beginning with his first single in his own name, ‘Moonlight in Vermont’/‘Tabu’ in 1952, through to the album Reminiscing in 1964, the majority of Johnny Smith’s recordings were released on Teddy Reig’s Roost label. Roost was acquired by Roulette in the late 1950s, which in turn eventually became part of the EMI portfolio.

Although the overwhelming majority of Johnny’s own albums on Roost fall into the category of jazz, there were some notable exceptions. On My Dear Little Sweetheart and Guitar and Strings he was featured with orchestral accompaniments that he composed and scored himself and which gave him a great sense of personal pride. Flower Drum Song was a small group interpretation of music from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical and was also decidedly non-jazz in style. This album sat uncomfortably with Johnny. Reig had asked him to record the album in expectation that Roost would be able to capitalize upon the musical’s anticipated success when it arrived on Broadway. Johnny, however, felt that the material did not lend itself well to a jazz interpretation. The Man with the Blue Guitar consisted of solo guitar, chord-melody performances, and it rightly remains a favorite of jazz guitarists.

In recent years, there have been sporadic re-issues on CD of some of Johnny Smith’s albums, such as on Toshiba in Japan and on Fresh Sound in Spain, which have been available over the internet. Undoubtedly, Mosaic Records’ issue of The Complete Roost Johnny Smith Small Group Sessions in an 8-CD box set in 2002 was the most treasured of releases. There have also been numerous compilation issues on CD format. However, many of Johnny’s albums are more easily available on vinyl via Ebay and other websites.

By using the Discography drop-down menu in the navigation bar, you will find Johnny Smith’s album covers listed according to those on the Roost Label and those on Other Labels. Although his original albums and significant compilation albums are listed, singles are excluded. His EPs (all of which consisted of recordings that also appeared on his albums) are shown on the right hand side of this page. Place the cursor over each image to see the record titles.

Please refer to Moonlight in Vermont: The Official Biography of Johnny Smith for full information on dates, track listings and personnel.

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