Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces: 1928-29
Updated post and link / post y enlace actualizados (2016):
Although only 20 years old, trumpeter Jabbo Smith cut virtually all of his finest recordings in 1929, when he was touted as a competitor to Louis Armstrong. Smith's 19 sides with his Rhythm Aces (all of which are on this essential CD) are some of the most exciting recordings of the era. Often teamed in a quintet with Omer Simeon (on clarinet and alto), pianist Cassino Simpson, banjoist Ikey Robinson, and the tuba of Hayes Alvis (subs appear on a few numbers), Jabbo's reckless and explorative trumpet flights are often thrilling. Highlights include "Jazz Battle," "Till Times Get Better," "Ace of Rhythm," and "Band Box Stomp," but all of the performances (including Smith's trombone solo on "Lina Blues" and his occasional and effective vocals) are well worth hearing. The CD concludes with Jabbo Smith's four-song 1938 session, which is disappointingly tame. Strange as it seems, Smith was past his prime by 1930 when he was only 21. Except for some early sideman appearances and forgettable efforts in later years (plus one previously unissued Rhythm Ace side from 1929 that was unearthed in the mid-'90s by the Retrieval label), this CD essentially contains Jabbo Smith's entire legacy, although he would live until 1991. -Scott Yanow
During the 1920s, Jabbo Smith was a promising young cornetist whose versatility and chutzpah invited comparison with Duke Ellington's first-chair soloist Bubber Miley. Both men suffered from the disease of alcoholism, and Bubber, who also contracted tuberculosis, perished when he was only 29 years old. Although Jabbo survived and would live past the age of 80, he was inactive for most of his life and never came anywhere near matching the triumphs of his youth, many of which are documented on Pearl's Ace of Rhythm, a 25-track sampler of recordings made between November 1927 and February 1938. Unlike Smith's entry in the Classics Chronological Series, Ace of Rhythm contains numerous examples that were not issued under his name. This allows for a pleasantly varied overview as Jabbo is heard filling in for Bubber with Duke Ellington's Orchestra and participating in an unusual chamber jazz session with the Louisiana Sugar Babes (a quartet that included pianist James P. Johnson, pipe organist Fats Waller, and multi-reedman Garvin Bushell) and with a scruffy little outfit operating under the nominal leadership of Banjo Ikey Robinson; during the lusty opus bearing the title "Got Butter on It," Smith delivers a handsome scat vocal in the manner of Louis Armstrong. All of this serves as a prelude to 16 marvelous performances by Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces (also known as Four Aces and the Jokers), a sturdy little group whose variable personnel included Robinson, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Omer Simeon, tubists Hayes Alvis and Lawson Buford, and pianists Cassino Simpson and Earl Frazier.
The interplay between Smith and Simeon is particularly exciting, and "Jazz Battle" is probably the best record that this group or its leader ever made. "Rub Me Some More" was recorded in 1930 by Lloyd Smith & His Gut-Bucketeers. (Discographical evidence indicates that the cornetist on this tune is not Smith at all but Clarence "Count" Rich.) Finally, the producers of this collection were wise enough to include only the instrumental number from Jabbo's Decca session of February 1, 1938, by which time he had switched to using the trumpet. There are numerous options available to those who are curious about Jabbo Smith's early recorded works. EPM Jazz Archives beat them all with a double-disc set packed with 48 tracks representing pretty much every recording made between 1928 and 1938 involving Jabbo Smith. Dipping back to 1927 to include the Ellington sides and carefully choosing some real gems from the cornetist's heyday, Pearl's Ace of Rhythm is an excellent compromise between the exactitude of the Classics compilation and the thoroughness of EPM's ultra-complete edition. ~ arwulf
02.Little Willie Blues
03.Sleepy Time Blues
04.Take Your Time
05.Sweet And Low Blues
06.Take Me To The River 07.Ace Of Rhythm
08.Let's Get Together
09.Sau-sha Stomp 10.Michigander Blues
11.Decatur Street Tutti 12.Til Times Get Better
14.Weird And Blue15.Croonin' The Blues
16.I Got The Stinger
19.Band Box Stomp
21.Rhythm In Spain
23.More Rain, More Rest
24.How Can Cupid Be So Stupid?Recorded between 1928 and 1929.
Personnel: Jabbo Smith (trumpet); Banjo Ikey Robinson (guitar, banjo); Connie Wainwright (guitar); Fred Guy (banjo); Garvin Bushell (clarinet, bassoon, alto saxophone); Harry Carney (clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Omer Simeon (clarinet, alto saxophone); Rudy Jackson (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Otto Hardwick (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Willard Brown (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Ben Smith , Leslie Johnakins (alto saxophone); Sam Simmons (tenor saxophone); Louis Metcalf (trumpet); Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton (trombone); Duke Ellington, James Reynolds , William Barbee, Cass Simpson, James P. Johnson (piano); Fats Waller (organ); Alfred Taylor, Walter Bishop, Sr., Sonny Greer (drums).