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San Francisco Bay Jazz by Johnny Smith

Armed with an air of casual cool, Johnny Smith puts a new spin on a set of well-chosen jazz standards.

First of all, the trio that appears on San Francisco Bay Jazz isn’t your typical combo. There’s Smith on vocals and acoustic guitar, Mark Holzinger on lead guitar, and Chris Justin on electric bass. Sometimes, Smith adds a little harmonica to the mix. The result is a CD that is a meeting of jazz and blues, uptown and downtown, late-night lounge and dirty juke joint.

The intimacy of just the three string instruments highlights Smith’s voice that’s coffee-rich and carries a subtle kick. It also gives plenty of room for Holzinger’s slick finger work. Listen to him on "Old Devil Moon."

The new CD finds Smith playfully taking a stab at other chestnuts, including "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," and "There Will Never Be Another You." He even does "Fly Me to the Moon," trading in Sinatra hipness for a more earthy approach. The group also reinvents Miles Davis’ "All Blues" with new lyrics.

Smith comes from a musical family. His uncle is Delaney Bramlett of the 1970s’ rock-blues duo Delaney & Bonnie. That background may help explain the bluesy quality underneath the music.

Listeners looking for something off the beaten path should give Smith a try.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Johnny Smith
  • CD Title: San Francisco Bay Jazz
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Napa Rain Records
  • Tracks: I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Old Devil Moon, All Blues, Is You Or Is You Ain’t (Ma’ Baby), Fly Me To The Moon, Mercy Mercy Mercy, There Will Never Be Another You, Come Rain Or Come Shine, Moanin’, More, Song For My Father, and Deep Puple
  • Musicians: Johnny Smith (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Mark Holzinger (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Chris Justin (bass)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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