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Here Comes Louis Smith

Blue Note 50999 5 14381 2 8




1, Tribute to Brownie
2. Brill's Blues
3. Ande
4. Star Dust
5. South Side
6. Val's Blues
Louis Smith - Trumpet
Cannonball Adderley - Alto sax
Duke Jordan - Piano (tracks 1, 2, 5)
Tommy Flanagan - Piano (tracks 3, 4, 6)
Doug Watkins - Bass
Art Taylor - Drums

When I reviewed Horace Silver's album Live in Newport '58 for this website (, I was particularly impressed by a trumpeter I hadn't heard before, His name was Louis Smith and he only played briefly for Horace Silver before returning to his job as a teacher. He had previously made a couple of albums which were released by Blue Note: this is the first of them, recorded in 1957 with Cannonball Adderley, who apparently disguised himself under the pseudonym of Buckshot La Funke.

The album opens with Tribute to Brownie, underlining Louis Smith's resemblance to Clifford Brown. Clifford had died in 1956 and there were hopes that Louis Smith might become his natural successor. Both trumpeters had formidable techniques, played with estimable clarity, and structured their solos with an audible affiliation with the blues. Tribute to Brownie opens with Louis playing with only the backing of Art Taylor's drums. Cannonball Adderley joins in for a very beboppish outing, then contributes a typically fluent, swirling solo. The tune was written by Duke Pearson, who adds a clear-lined piano solo.

Louis's trumpet is bluesily funky in Brill's Blues, so titled because the original recording sessions took place at the Brill Building in Manhattan. This is the first of four original compositions by Smith - the only other non-original is Hoagy Carmichael's Star Dust, which demonstrates Louis's ability to deliver a ballad with sensitivity. He sounds as eloquent and inventive as Clifford Brown ever did. Adderley lays out for this number, leaving the limelight to Louis.

Ande was written and named for Smith's wife, although it is based on the chord sequence of Indiana. Tommy Flanagan takes over the piano stool for this and two other numbers, showing how he could combine urbanity with his understanding of bebop. Smith and Adderley blend beautifully in the theme statement of South Side, another beboppish tune where Smith's technical ability is fully displayed. Cannonball's solo is mesmerising. The album closes with Val's Blues, where bassist Doug Watkins gets a solo and drummer Art Taylor swaps fours with Louis - although the drumming is erratic and Taylor cries out with frustration when one break falls apart. But generally the bass and drums keep things swinging nicely throughout. As with most of these Blue Note reissues, the playing time is miserly by modern standards - barely 43 minutes of music. But it is quality stuff.

After the two Blue Note albums and his work with Horace Silver, Louis Smith only recorded spasmodically. The loss is ours.

Tony Augarde





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