Johnny Smith “My Dear Little Sweetheart” Royal Roost Records 2239 Tosiba-Emi TOCJ -9602
Orchestra Directed by Irwin Kostal.
When Mosaic records released the Royal Roost boxed set of Johnny Smith, several of the recordings were not used as Mosaic only issued the small group recordings. My Dear Little Sweetheart was one of them. It has at last been reissued on CD. This is a record that has little so called “jazz”. It does have something else going for it however. It has beautiful music. Nine wonderful standards and Johnny’s own composition, “My Dear Little Sweetheart”. The arrangements are all by Johnny with full string section (twelve violins, two cellos, and two violas), as well as bass and drums. Johnny’s own song, “My Dear Little Sweetheart” was recorded by Sarah Vaughan in 1960. This is a highly emotional recording with Johnny sounding at times like a viola or cello. The inner voicings in the string section are an indication of the depth of how Johnny Smith can hear the subtlety of the harmony. This is a rare achievement. The lush orchestrations are very touching and dreamy. Who else can play a triad and make it sound so right? The intonation and execution are perfect. All those strings and everyone is in tune! Not easily done I can tell you.
When I reviewed the Mosaic boxed set of Johnny Smith, I mentioned that no one interprets tunes like Johnny. This recording will certainly verify that.
This is a must recording if you’re a Johnny Smith fan. (Who isn’t?)
To quote Bud Katzel who wrote the liner notes : “For Johnny Smith who has etched here a once in a lifetime performance, this is an album he will always consider and recall as one of his finest, if not his finest.”
I don’t think it can be said any better.
Jack Wilkins 2006
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Review Johnny Smith "My Dear Little Sweetheart"