Moonlight in Vermont (album)

Moonlight in Vermont is a 1956 compilation album by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, featuring tenor saxophonist Stan Getz. The material on the album was recorded between 1952 and 1953, and was drawn from two 10-inch LPs, both titled "Jazz at NBC", which were previously issued by the Royal Roost label.

Moonlight in Vermont
Moonlight in Vermont album cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1956 (1956-09)[1]
RecordedMarch 1952 – August 1953
GenreCool jazz
LabelRoost
ProducerTeddy Reig
Johnny Smith chronology
A Three Dimension Sound Recording at NBC with the J. S. Quartet
(1952)
Moonlight in Vermont
(1956)
Johnny Smith Quintet
(1953)
Stan Getz chronology
Stan Getz at Storyville
(1951)
Moonlight in Vermont
(1952)
Stan Getz Plays
(1952)

Titled for Smith's breakthrough hit song, its single was DownBeat readers' second favorite jazz record of the year.[2][3] It was popularly and critically well received and has come to be regarded as an important album in Smith's discography, in the cool jazz genre and in the evolution of jazz guitar. Songs on the album, which reveal the influence of Smith's experiences with the NBC Studio Orchestra, and as a multi-instrument musician, include the title track and the original composition "Jaguar". The title track, singled out for its virtuosity, was a highly influential rendition of a jazz standard that secured Smith's position in the public eye.

Originally released on Roost Records, the album was reissued in significantly expanded form by Roulette Records in 1994, with more material including a previously unreleased version of "Jaguar".

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic (CD Reissue)     [4]

Well-received, the album became the #1 Jazz Album for 1956,[5] a position it attained, according to the retrospective book Gibson Electrics, as an "overnight best-seller capturing the essence of the cool jazz era".[6] Critically regarded as one of the defining albums of cool jazz,[7] it is listed in A Concise History of Electric Guitar among those few recordings which "firmly established" the electric guitar's "sound in popular culture, elevating it from the dark dissonance of bebop jazz to the more consonant textures of a rapidly developing style called western swing".[8] Guitar World characterizes it as Smith's "classic album".[9]

SongsEdit

Among the album's songs is the title track, "Moonlight in Vermont", a rendition of a John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf standard. According to Getz biographer Dave Gelly, the song became an "unexpected hit",[10] an unusual occurrence in jazz music,[11] remaining on the charts for months.[12] It was for this rendition that Smith earned the title "King of Cool Jazz Guitar".[5] "Moonlight in Vermont" was Smith's breakthrough song, launching him into public awareness.[13] It also increased the profile of Getz and resulted in his receiving a contract from renowned jazz producer Norman Granz.[10] Contrary to popular belief, it was the 1952 release of the single, rather than the 1956 release of the compilation album, which was rated the second best jazz record of the year in DownBeat readers' poll.[2][3]

The song is known for its guitar virtuosity. The New York Times observed that Smith's arpeggio on the song "went from the lowest to the highest reaches of the guitar, all in one fluid movement".[14] Echo and Twang characterized it as "complete with Smith's clear, reverb-tinged sound, his fleet-fingered but relaxed three-octave runs, and above all his lush, close-voiced, chord melody style".[13] Guitar World described it as "a perfect illustration of [Smith's] mastery of the guitar's subtle inner-string voicings".[9]

According to Guitar World, the rendition was influential, becoming "the template for every guitarist to come".[9] Smith's performance of the song was a favorite of guitarist Eddie Cochran and first turned Herbie Hancock on to jazz.[15][16] James Sallis indicates that "[t]he mood of this ballad has never been more subtly captured".[17]

Also of note on the track list is the song "Jaguar", described by Guitar World as Smith's "signature song".[9] The book Masters of Guitar singles out the "up-tempo Smith original" as among the album's "many gems".[11] Several other tracks were singled out in The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon, by A. J. Millard, who theorized that Smith's playing style was influenced by his history as a trumpeter and his experiences in the NBC Studio Orchestra, which required extensive sight reading.[18] According to Millard, in "Moonlight in Vermont" and "Tenderly", Smith's chord melodies resemble piano, while in "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Tabú" the guitar becomes hornlike at midrange, with the electric guitar resembling a saxophone overall.[18]

HistoryEdit

Originally released on the Roost Records label, catalog RST-2211, the album has been subsequently reissued in an expanded CD form in 1994 on Roulette Records, who had acquired the Roost Collection in 1958. The expanded CD includes all of the tracks from the original album and incorporates most of the artist's recordings from that and the subsequent year, with the exception of three songs.[19] One of the tracks, an alternative take on the Smith-penned "Jaguar", was previously unreleased.[19] The tracks were also included in Getz' Complete Roost Recordings box-set.

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Where or When"Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart2:24
2."Tabú"Margarita Lecuona, Bob Russell, Al Stillman2:40
3."Moonlight in Vermont"John Blackburn, Karl Suessdorf3:12
4."Jaguar"Smith2:28
5."Jaguar" (alternate take)Smith2:28
6."I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You"Bing Crosby, Ned Washington, Victor Young3:08
7."Vilia"Franz Lehár2:40
8."My Funny Valentine"Rodgers, Hart2:37
9."Sometimes I'm Happy (Sometimes I'm Blue)"Irving Caesar, Clifford Grey, Vincent Youmans2:18
10."Stars Fell on Alabama"Mitchell Parish, Frank Perkins3:03
11."Nice Work If You Can Get It"George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin2:24
12."Tenderly"Walter Gross, Jack Lawrence3:24
13."Cavu"Smith2:12
14."I'll Be Around"Alec Wilder2:44
15."Yesterdays"Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern2:50
16."Cherokee"Ray Noble2:46
17."What's New?"Johnny Burke, Bob Haggart3:04
18."I'll Remember April"Gene de Paul, Patricia Johnston, Don Raye2:46
19."Lullaby of Birdland"George Shearing, George David Weiss3:03
  • Tracks 5, 8, 9, 11, 17, 18 and 19 were added on to the CD reissue.

PersonnelEdit

Production

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Billboard Sept 15, 1956
  2. ^ a b Enright, Ed (June 17, 2013). "Guitarist Johnny Smith Dies at 90". DownBeat. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Flanagan, Lin (2015). Moonlight in Vermont: The Official Biography of Johnny Smith. Anaheim Hills: Centerstream Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-57424-322-2.
  4. ^ Allmusic (CD Reissue) review
  5. ^ a b Chapman, Charles (2001). Mel Bay Presents Interviews with the Jazz Greats-- and More. Mel Bay Publications. p. 61. ISBN 0-7866-5946-7. Moonlight in Vermont Johnny Smith.
  6. ^ Duchossoir, A. R.; Dahl (1998). Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years : An Illustrated History from the Mid-'30s to the Mid-'60s. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 95. ISBN 0-7935-9210-0.
  7. ^ Bonds, Ray (2003). Illustrated Directory of Guitars. MBI Publishing Company. p. 338. ISBN 0-7603-1561-2.
  8. ^ Ingram, Adrian (2001). A Concise History of the Electric Guitar. Mel Bay Publications. p. 23. ISBN 0-7866-4982-8. Moonlight in Vermont Johnny Smith.
  9. ^ a b c d Kitts, Jeff (2002). Guitar World presents the 100 greatest guitarists of all time! : from the pages of Guitar world magazine (1st ed.). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. p. 73. ISBN 0-634-04619-5.
  10. ^ a b Gelly, Dave (2002). Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me. Backbeat Books. p. 56. ISBN 0-87930-729-3. Moonlight in Vermont Johnny Smith.
  11. ^ a b Alexander, Charles (2003). Masters of Jazz Guitar: The Story of the Players and Their Music. Backbeat Books. p. 59. ISBN 0-87930-728-5.
  12. ^ Ritz, David (2003). Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott. Da Capo Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-306-81229-0.
  13. ^ a b Bacon, Tony (2001). Echo and Twang: Classic Guitar Music of the '50s. Backbeat Books. p. 22. ISBN 0-87930-642-4.
  14. ^ Ratliff, Ben (1999-06-17). "Paying homage to a guitar idol who sees no cause". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
  15. ^ Cochran, Bobby; Susan VanHecke; Susan Van Hecke (2003). Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 30. ISBN 0-634-03252-6.
  16. ^ Coryell, Julie; Laura Friedman (2000). Jazz-Rock Fusion: The People, the Music. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 202–203. ISBN 0-7935-9941-5.
  17. ^ Sallis, James (1996). The Guitar in Jazz: An Anthology. U of Nebraska Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-8032-4250-6.
  18. ^ a b Millard, A. J. (2004). The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon. JHU Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-8018-7862-4.
  19. ^ a b Moonlight in Vermont at AllMusic