Willie `The Lion´Smith

Stride Piano Duets - Live in Toronto 1966 (DE-249)

Stride Piano Duets - Live in Toronto 1966 View larger


Stride Piano Duets - Live in Toronto 1966

Willie `The Lion´Smith



DEL 123109




Stride Piano Duets - Live in Toronto 1966

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CD 9,88 €

WILLIE “THE LION” SMITH (p, voc on 2 tracks) DON EWELL (p, except #7)

Tracks: 1. Relaxin, 2. Blue Skies, 3. I Found a New Baby 4. Tea for Two, 5. Charleston, 6. You’re Driving Me Crazy, 7. Here Comes the Band, 8. Sweet Georgia Brown, 9. Georgia on My Mind, 10. Linger Awhile/Shin, 11. If I Could Be with You, 12. Just You, Just Me, 13.Squeeze Me, 14. Twelfth Street Rag

When Willie "The Lion" Smith and Don Ewell got together for this four hands/two piano club date, people must have know that sparks were gonna fly -- and they do! The two recorded in a Toronto studio a few months prior to laying down these previously unreleased tracks at the Golden Nugget, a joint on Yonge Street that had been closed some time after this engagement. You'll have to listen closely to hear the difference between the more demonstrative Smith and the effortless Ewell, but make no mistake, they are perfect foils for each other. More often than not, it is Smith who is serving up the sliders and curveballs towards Ewell, and Ewell is returning them right back in a similar fashion. Smith is verbal in his exhortation, cues, and quips, while Ewell simply plays and plays. The freewheeling and easy stride of "Relaxin'" gets the two in a good mood, with Smith wordlessly singing the melody briefly, and exclaiming "yeah, I hear ya," urging Ewell's flourishes onward. The Lion cries out "hey, Ellington" before a respectful "Blue Skies," then the two fly furiously on the stunningly virtuosic "I Found a New Baby." The bouncy show time feel of "Linger Awhile" leads to "Shine" as the two go to town, and Smith sings about how his "hair is curly" and his "teeth are pearly." Steady stride à la Fats Waller takes place on "You're Driving Me Crazy" with a more distinct division of labor, while quick or start-stop gear shifts and accelerated non-stop pace drives "Just You, Just Me," and the two extrapolate a bit during "Squeeze Me." Much is made of the demonstrative left hands of these two masters, and it is most evident on the deliberate, old-timey "Charleston," the rambling "If I Could Be with You" sung by Smith at the end, and the playful solo for Smith on "Here Comes the Band," which is amazing on many levels. The two close with a real chestnut, Euday Bowman's bubbly "Twelfth Street Rag." This highly recommended recording is one to savor for decades upon end, and a lasting document in the careers of two of the greatest vintage jazz pianists the world has ever known. ~ Michael G. Nastos