There are too many tracks here to detail individually. Perhaps an overview is best. By November 15, 1957, Smith had recorded professionally for approximately one year before the performance at Smalls’ Paradise in New York City. This club has an interesting history as it is. However, Smith made real history and continued to do so over the years.
First, you will find Smith the virtuoso. For those who are mostly familiar with his latter work on Blue Note and Verve may be quite surprised by what they hear. This was quite a performance of mostly standards and one original ("Slightly Monkish"). He proved himself to be the premier modern-style jazz organist, which is old news. What is intriguing is his everlasting energy on these lengthy tracks. Smith played relentlessly and reached more than one musical climax in many cases. His treatment of ballads such as "My Funny Valentine," "Laura, " "Body and Soul," and "After Hours," was more exciting than the uptempo interpretations. Guitarist Eddie McFadden and drummer Donald Bailey didn’t receive much play, but sounded off nonetheless, probably for Smith to build up energy again. It is doubtful that anyone could ignore or sleep through this two-disc recording. Perhaps the simplest track could be "Just Friends," as Smith sticks much more closely to the melody and limits the theatrics. Four of the tracks, ("Walkin'," "It’s Only a Paper Moon," "I Can’t Give You Anything But Love," and "The Champ") were previously unissued on the original vinyl.
This is part of the Rudy Van Gelder Edition series on Blue Note, which has been remastered and transferred from analog to digital at 24-bit resolution. Van Gelder, whose rich history in the studio is truly enviable, deserves our gratitude for improving on such a wonderful product. Hats off to him, Michael Cuscuna and, of course, the late Alfred Lion for their wisdom and love of jazz. Some of us have been waiting for the return of this brilliant performance. It is a masterpiece for all time.