Jabbo Smith: Jazz Battle

Track

Jazz Battle

Group

Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces

CD

Hot Jazz in the Twenties, Vol. 1 (Biograph BCD 151)

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Musicians:

Jabbo Smith (trumpet), Omer Simeon (clarinet), Cassino Simpson (piano), Ikey Robinson (banjo).

Composed by Jabbo Smith

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Recorded: January 29, 1929

Albumcoverjabbosmith-hotjazzinthetwenties-volume1

Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

"Jabbo was as good as Louis [Armstrong] then," bassist Milt Hinton later remembered. "He was the Dizzy Gillespie of that era. He played rapid-fire passages while Louis was melodic and beautiful . . . [Jabbo] could play soft and he could play fast, but he never made it." Until the Great Depression, Smith always seemed just one step away from stardom. While still a teenager, he recorded with Ellington on a memorable version of "Black and Tan Fantasy" but turned down's Duke's offer to join the band. He went head to head against Louis Armstrong in Chicago during the late 1920s, sometimes on the same bandstand, and Jabbo could hold his own with the jazz legend. Smith's Brunswick recordings with the Rhythm Aces were supposed to make money off the audience Armstrong had built with his classic Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, but they sold poorly at the time. Yet Smith's trumpet work, as demonstrated on "Jazz Battle," was exceptional, full of fire and executed with virtuosity. A few years later, Smith had moved to Milwaukee where he worked for a car rental agency, and his sporadic attempts to return to music never made much headway. But in his prime, he was one of the greatest trumpeters of his day.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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