Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Johnny Smith's Kaleidoscope - S/Tdotdot
artworkJohnny Smith's Kaleidoscope is a sixties project of jazz the guitarist who wrote 'Walk Don't Run' in the early fifties. His writing skill is only displayed on that track hear, while the rest are standards. The style overall is like a really dumbed down Chris Shahin Band, without the inventiveness, and strained through a slush generator. Other than the curiosity factor over his classic tune, there's little here for a surf fan .
Picks: Walk Don't Run, Old Folks, Days Of Wine And Roses, The Girl With The Flaxen hair, My Foolish Heart, By Myself, I'm Old Fashioned, Sweet Lorraine, Choro Da Saudade, Dreamsville

Track by Track Review


Walk Don't Run dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

Johnny Smith wrote this in the early fifties. In 1967, he recorded this with his jazz band Johnny Smith's Kaleidoscope. In some ways, it's like the way that the Chris Shahin Band plays this classic. In others, it's less adventurous and more slushy. It is interesting to hear what the writer does with a often covered classic. The piano jive midstream adds a sense of a smoky bar.

Old Folks dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

Soft and slushy, afternoon verandah lemonade music. The sun is low, the air is warm, and the mail carrier is bringing the social security check up the walk. What more is there?

Days Of Wine And Roses dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

With a restrained Latin beat underneath, this rendering of "Days Of Wine And Roses" is a slurry of soft feathers and whipped cream. Frothy and fluffy, pretty, and without redeeming social value. OK, so it doesn't have any edge, and I can't quite get into it. Objectively, I have to say that the playing is exquisitely clean and sweet.

The Girl With The Flaxen hair dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

Before there was Kenny G, before the CTI dumb-down of mainstream jazz, there was the golden age of MOR jazz. Yes, jazz has often been polluted with romantic swill performed by very talented players with an elevator sense of taste. Like wondering what Cher would be like in front of the Chocolate Watchband and sang "Sweet Young Thing," so too do I wonder what would happen if Johnny Smith fronted a great band... wait a minute, it would sound like the Chris Shahin Band. This track isn't that at all. It's just soft romantic interlude music.

My Foolish Heart dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

It doesn't get more slushy than this. "My Foolish Heart" is a very pretty backdrop to an evening by the fireside. Slow and piano bar smooth.

By Myself dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

A solo introduction yields to a sprightly jazz groove. It has spunk and flair, and is a lot more fun than most other tracks here. The speedy guitaristry borders on a breakdown in places. Pretty darn fun.

I'm Old Fashioned dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

"I'm Old Fashioned" has a slightly Spanish feel, but lives squarely on the third floor of Sunset Villa. It's what happens when really good piano bar players (is that an oxymoron?) get together. Perfect and fluid, but unremarkable.

Sweet Lorraine dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

Slow moving sidewalk caper music, with a wispy melody and sound. This classic is not related to "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine," except by implication.

Choro Da Saudade dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

"Choro Da Saudade" is slightly energetic, and sports a lilting bounce. A "Tango de VFW," so to speak. It has an endearing quality to it, and would work really well under several different scenarios in films. By the time it ends, it works into your blood like a sedative laced with stimulants.

Dreamsville dotdotdot
MOR Jazz (Instrumental)

Floating imaginary puff... that says it all.