JJ 02/69: Stuff Smith – Swingin’ Stuff

First published Jazz Journal, February 1969


If any of you have ever asked the meaning of the word ‘swing’, here is the complete answer. Stuff gets off the ground on the first note on the first track and never comes to ground until the final phrase dies away. He plays faultless, ageless, limitless jazz. Jazz which bows in no direction except towards getting in the groove, and which is, to be completely parodoxical, jazz without strings. Don’t worry yourself about his tone, which is after all a completely jazz tone, or for any orthodox display of technique. Just sit back, relax and let your feet do the tapping, your fingers the snapping. I don’t think any one musician ever created a better beat than does Mr. Smith, a view incidentally shared by a great number of musicians I have spoken to on the subject. This Swedish recording must be the first release since Stuff recorded for 20th Century Fox way back in 1959, although I did hear a rumour he was recorded, side by side with Ray Nance and Stephen Grappelly a couple of years ago for Reprise by Duke Ellington, but the LP was never issued. What a waste of talent!

The rhythm team he has with him here are excellent. Kenny Drew returns to his old piano stomping style, and the Swedish bassist and drummer acquite themselves excellently. Forget about your favourite, of the moment, avant garde trumpet player or tenor player, or even your best loved blues singer. Forget any other records this month in fact, and buy this.
Sinclair Traill

Bugle Blues; Only Time Will Tell; Old Stinkin’ Blues; Mack The Knife; C Jam Blues (21J min) —One O’clock Jump; My Blue Heaven; Blues For Timme; Take The A-Train (19 min)
Stuff Smith (vln); Kenny Drew (pno); Niels Henning Orsted (bs); Alex Riel (dm). Jazzhus Montmarthe, Copenhagen 23/3/65.
(Polydor Special 236 509 25s 4d)