01. Tippin' In
02. Station Break
03. After Hours
04. Bess Boogie
05. Dash Hound Boogie
06. Blue Keys
07. Flip A Coin
08. Cinder Bottom
01. Buffalo Nickel (part 1)
02. Desert Night
03. Danny Boy
04. Skippin' And Hoppin'
05. Night Watch
06. Tread Lightly
08. Don't Shake Those Hips At Me
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Good collection of small group jazz / boogie / jump by alto sax man, composer and arranger Bobby Smith. This was a spin-off project from the Erskine Hawkins big band, the Smith group consisting entirely of Hawkins band members. It wasn't a breakaway group as the musicians continued to play with and record with the parent big band while the small group acted as house band for Apollo Records of New York.
Bobby Smith was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1907. Born into a musical family, he learned piano, drums and saxophone. While on tour with Banjo Bernie's band he found himself stranded in
Florida. This turned out to be a career defining stroke of fortune, for he then joined the Original Sunset Royal Serenaders with whom he stayed for nearly ten years. When trombonist and singer Doc Wheeler took over as band leader the outfit was renamed Doc Wheeler and his Sunset Orchestra under which name the band recorded for the Victor subsidiary label Bluebird in late 1941 / early 1942.
Among the sides recorded were a Bobby Smith / Cat Anderson composition, "How 'Bout That Mess" and a Bobby Smith arrangement of Jesse Stone's "Sorghum Switch", a number which would be revived in the R&B years as "Cole Slaw" by Frank Culley, Louis Jordan and Jesse Stone himself. Also noteworthy is the version of "Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well" recorded by the band in March 1942, more than two years before the Lucky Millinder / Wynonie Harris version.
Somewhere around 1943 or 1944 Bobby moved over to the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, a much better established band which had enjoyed long residencies at the Savoy Ballroom (often side by side with the Chick Webb Orchestra) and a long series of hit recordings, including the original version of "Tuxedo Junction", "Whispering Grass" and "Don't Cry Baby." The Sunset Orchestra seems to have been a source of musicians for the Hawkins band, for among the musicians who made the transition were Ace Harris, who replaced Avery Parrish (composer of "After Hours") on piano, guitarist Leroy Kirkland, trumpeter Jimmy Harris and drummer Joe Murphy.
Bobby composed one of Erskine Hawkins' biggest hits, "Tippin' In" which was an R&B number one in 1945 and which was revived twice more by Bobby and the small group on Apollo - in the 1950 instrumental version on this LP and in a vocal version by The Larks in 1954 with the Smith band providing accompaniment.
The Bobby Smith Orchestra recorded under their own name for Apollo between 1949 and 1954, as well as accompanying acts like blues shouter Eddie Mack and the top notch bluesy vocal group The Larks. The latter recorded the superb B Side of "Little Side Car" with Bobby - "Hey Little Girl" which is one of my favourite R&B records
This LP features sides from the 1949 - 1950 Apollo sessions, plus both sides of two singles for Apollo subsidiary Ruby which Bobby recorded with Sam "The Man" Taylor in 1951. This was something in the way of a reunion, for Sam was a fellow graduate of The School Of Cool aka The Sunset Orchestra.
Recommended further listening is the Delmark CD "That's For Sure!" which has 22 sides recorded by The Bobby Smith Orchestra between 1949 and 1954. From the mastertapes!
Information sources - Dave Penny: notes to "Jazz At The Apollo" and to the CD "Erskine Hawkins Jukebox Hits 1940-1950" (Acrobat). Stanley Dance: notes to the Delmark CD "That's For Sure!"