Stuff Smith & Robert Crum: Complete 1944 Rosenkrantz Apartment Transcription Duets / Ray Perry: Complete 1944 C. W. French & 1945 Rosenkrantz Apartment Transcriptions / Stuff

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Stuff Smith & Robert Crum: Complete 1944 Rosenkrantz Apartment Transcription Duets (AB Fable, ABCD2-004/5)

Ray Perry.- Complete 1944 E. W. French & 1945 Rosenkrontz Apartment Transcriptions (ABCD1-006)

Stuff Smith: 1944-1946 Studio, Broadcast, Concert, & Apartment Performances (ABCD2-007/8)

New CD series spotlights jazz violin greats

IN VARIOUS NOOKS AND CRANNIES OF THE MUSIC WORLD, there reside dedicated enthusiasts (fanatics?) who do amazing work preserving, conserving, and promulgating great works of art from the past, and helping to establish their proper historical context. Anthony Barnett is one of these rare souls. Barnett, a poet and percussionist, has spent an enormous amount of time and energy over the last decade collecting and disseminating beautiful material about many of the great jazz violinists of the past.

As part of his comprehensive, multivolume series entitled Violin Improvisation Studies, Barnett has begun releasing wonderful CDs of extremely rare performances by Hezekiah "Stuff" Smith and Ray Perry, among others. Three of these CDs hit my doorstep with a delightful thud recently, and I've been enjoying digging into the many treasures they contain.

Barnett has done a stellar job establishing Smith as a truly revolutionary genius deserving of wider recognition. Conclusive proof can be found in the performances that Smith did with classical pianist Robert Crum (no relation to the cartoonist, although both clearly live in phantasmagoric worlds of their own creation). These rare recordings, Stuff Smith & Robert Crum: Complete 1944 Rosenkrantz Apartment Transcription Duets, show us that "free jazz" existed way before the work of saxophonist Ornette Coleman, indeed even before the famous Tristano-Konitz-- Marsh sessions of the '50s. This is challenging listening musically, and also because these early home recordings are nowhere near the technical quality we associate with commercial releases. But stay with it; you'll soon find yourself transported to a world of pure creative brilliance.

The real treasure in this group of recordings is a two-disc set called Stuff Smith 1944-1946 Studio, Broadcast, Concert, & Apartment Performances. No one has done more than Barnett to bring to light Smith's revolutionary, wildly swinging genius, and there is no better place to capture a glimpse of this wild man at the peak of his powers than on these two newly released discs. …