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Music  >>  CDs  >>  Jazz

Smith,Steve / Valentino,Vinny

Groove: Blue

Smith Steve Valentino Vinny Groove Blue
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We owe the existence of this precious jewel of an album to a chance encounter in Indonesia's capital Jakarta in March 2011. Drummer Steve Smith and guitarist Vinny Valentino decided to go for a nightcap after playing the Java Jazz Festival with their band Vital Information. As they approached the lounge bar, they heard the sound of a wild swinging electric organ. Wondering "who the hell was banging those black and white keys" they walked in and there they saw Tony Monaco, one of the "unsung heroes" of the Hammond B3. Few people knew much about him apart from that he had been promoted by organ legend Jimmy Smith and had spent two years touring with jazz guitarist Pat Martino. Smith and Valentino made their way through the crowd and asked if they could join in. They proceeded to spent the rest of the night jamming out together later joined by festival greats like George Benson and Roy Hargrove. Five months later, fate once again intervened. Smith and Valentino had been booked for a workshop in Cleveland Ohio. Tony Monaco lived close by in Columbus, a modest 230 km drive away. A spontaneous phone call resulted in a car journey and resulted in the three of them playing in Monaco's small home studio. Steve borrowed a small jazz drum kit from a friend of Tony's as his own didn't fit in the car. Valentino plugged his guitar into the only available amplifier and they were off. They worked so well together, they decided there and then to record an album. One and a half days later the recording was in the box! To get a sense of the style of this album, think of the classic Blue Note organ trios of the 60s. These true musos inject effortlessly this 50 year old sound into their own compositions, adding a few specially arranged jazz standards along the way such as the legendary 1958 Miles Davis classic version of "On Green Dolphin Street" which Smith's zestful drumming gives a distinct Latin feeling; Ray Nobles "Cherokee" is gently modernised with a funky groove; Nat King Cole's immortal "It's Only A Paper Moon" from the Broadway musical "The Great Magoo" retains a timeless swing but with a walking pedal bass from the Hammond organ; they wind down with a gentle version of "That's All", an unforgettable ballad from the Great American Songbook.
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