Paul Smith (p, arr, dir), Julius Kinsler (fl, a-fl), Abe Most, Willie Schwartz (cl), Ronny Lang (as), Bob Cooper (ts), Tony Rizzi (g), Sam Cheifetz, Joe Mondragon (b), Irv Cottler, Alvin Stoller, Stan Levey (d)
Bar code: 8427328611299
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Californian Paul Smith (1922-2013) was a brilliant and multifaceted pianist whose great talent and extensive training prepared him for any type of commission, becoming in the early ‘50s one of Hollywood’s busiest musicians. By then, and after all of the new and old sounds, the hot sounds and the cool sounds, it took a very imaginative musician to create something truly unusual... To this end, Paul Smith’s idea was to combine the flowing sound of woodwinds with the percussive attack of guitar and piano. He combined flute (Julius Kinsler), clarinet (Abe Most), guitar (Tony Rizzi), bass (Sam Cheifetz) and drums (Alvin Stoller or Irv Cottler).
In early 1954, he recorded the album “Liquid Sounds,” which included eleven tunes on which the ensembles came together extremely well; Smith’s writing was witty and flexible; and his own piano playing was as graceful as ever.
Three more albums in the same vein followed. The music of “Cascades” (1955), “Cool and Sparkling” (1956) and “Delicate Jazz” (1958) was sophisticated, often swinging, and always conveyed impeccable taste and good humor. They formed a string of hit albums in which he produced a type of superior cocktail music, plus something else when Paul, Toni Rizzi, Ronny Lang (alto sax), Bob Cooper, (tenor sax) and Stan Levey (drums) stopped and blew. Most of the melodies are taken at an energetic pace, with few ballads included. The solos are short, tasteful and swinging. The arrangements were cleverly conceived and attractively executed on the restrained terms set forth. Its style defied neat labels, as his appeal was too broad to be labeled “modern jazz,” “cocktail music” or “easy listening music.” It is all of these. If you like jazz blown with the slick, elegant courtesy of Hollywood, you’ll enjoy these Liquid Sounds by Paul Smith.
"This is a great time to be a jazz fan looking for new “old” sounds that got missed the first time around. Here is a tidbit to treasure…
Pianist Paul Smith is best remembered for being Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist from the 50s-70s, appearing on many classic albums. This two disc collection has him in a rare small band collection of settings, from 1954-58, in Hollywood, California teamed with fellow studio studs like Abe Most/cl, Tony Rizzi/g, Julius Kinsler/fl-as, Willie Schwartz/cl, Bob Cooper/ts, Irv Cottier/dr, Stan Levey/dr and Ronny Lang/as to name a few. The songs have that classic “California Cool” sound that made West Coast Jazz so famous.
Arranged in the vein of Shorty Rogers, tunes like “The Lady Is A Tramp or “That Old Black Magic” have warm flutes and gliding grooves, while originals such as “Cookie Time” and “The Grump” are wonderful and whimsical avenues for Lang’s pretty alto. Cooper is in rich form for “Love Walked In” and he glistens with Kinsler on “Love Walked In” and “All Of You.” Smith saunters seductively on “All Of You” and glows on Alone Together”. The accompanying booklet includes original liner notes and some great background info. California dreamin’."
George W. Harris (July 12, 2023)
"Paul Smith (1922-2013) was a brilliant pianist whose superb technique and swinging style often sounded a lot like Oscar Peterson, particularly on his many later recordings for the Outstanding label. Early on he worked with the Johnny Richards big band (1941). After serving in the military, Smith had stints with Les Paul and Tommy Dorsey (1947-1949) before moving to Los Angeles where he spent much of his life as a studio musician. However Smith always played jazz, he took time off to go on tours with Ella Fitzgerald, and often could be found playing in Los Angeles area nightclubs.
During 1954-58, Paul Smith led four unusual albums: Liquid Sounds, Cascades, Cool And Sparkling, and Delicate Jazz. The first record, Liquid Sounds (a term which was used by Smith to describe the music on these projects), features his arrangements for a sextet that also includes Julius Kinsler on flute, clarinetist Abe Most, guitarist Tony Rizzi, bassist Sam Cheietz, and either Irv Cottler or Alvin Stoller on drums. Altoist Ronny Lang is added to the second and third albums while tenor-saxophonist Bob Cooper is an important part of Delicate Jazz.
The repertoire features Smith’s versions of Great American Songbook pieces (mostly from the 30s and '40s) plus the pianist’s originals which are in a complementary style. Despite being recorded after LPs replaced '78s, all but two of the 48 performance are less than four minutes in length. The emphasis is on the ensembles (which are sometimes influenced by classical music) and the individual solos are short but, whenever Paul Smith cuts loose on the uptempo pieces, the results are virtuosic and memorable.
One can call the music on this two-CD set easy-listening, swing, or even cocktail music (although it is generally more inventive than that). But under any name, Paul Smith’s Liquid Sounds can be considered a refreshing departure in his busy career, and easy-to-take music that is worth discovering."
—Scott Yanow (December, 2023)
The Syncopated Times