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Softly As A Summer Breeze (1958)

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Philly Joe Jones

Softly As a Summer Breeze is one of Jimmy Smith's more obscure Blue Notes. The six-song trio program finds the organist joined by either guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Philly Joe Jones or guitarist Eddie McFadden and drummer Donald Bailey. In the original liner notes, Leonard Feather makes it seem like a ballad-oriented set, but "Hackensack" really cooks, "Sometimes I'm Happy" struts, and "One For Philly Joe" (a familiar but unplaceable melody used for a later pop tune) has its exciting moments. What is unusual about the set is the absence of any blues. The CD is augmented by four other selections that were originally released as 45s and are features for Bill Henderson's vocals; the singer is joined by Smith, guitarist Ray Crawford and drummer Bailey. Henderson's debut, a version of "Senor Blues" with Horace Silver, had been a hit, but lightning would not strike twice, although the he would have a productive career during the next four decades. Overall, this CD is not too essential, but it does fill in a few gaps. ~ Scott Yanow