Tab Smith (1956) Red Hot and Cool Blue Moods (LP) United Records 003


Tab Smith

Red Hot and Cool Blue Moods

United Records 003


*** noteworthy


While few remember Tab Smith today, he was flying high with success in the mid 50s, perhaps United Records’ (Chicago) answer to Earl Bostic.

This long player houses most of the instrumental sides Tab recorded for United during the mid 50s and provides a window to a world now mostly forgotten. And that’s unfortunate because artists such as Tab helped bridge the jazz of earlier decades to the music the masses would embrace in the decades that followed.  On the other hand, this isn’t part of the wild R&B of this era that clearly welcomes in rock and roll, and it’s not cutting edge jazz, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Tab’s music has been mostly forgotten.  It’s not proto-this or proto-that, and that’s often all the masses find interest in exploring.  But this is enjoyable music, earthy yet urban, full of tone and focused on feeling rather than showing off.  While this lacks the abandonment of much of the R&B from this era, this has more depth than much of the music of the 50s, without ever getting too serious like the innovative jazz of this decade.  It’s mood music with some meat.

There’s a sadness that runs through even the “red hot” numbers, and it’s sad that black artists such as Tab Smith aren’t remembered more.

— winch

Eddie Costa & Vinnie Burke Trio (1956) S/T (LP) Josie 3509 (1962 reish of Jubilee JLP 1025)

“Oh this is delightful,” my woman says when she steps into my den.  Typically, she’s walking into a vroom of high-octane punk rock, deep funk or some crazy-ass shit that just makes her grin, shake her head and head the other way, but this album she found “dignified but cheerful.”  Indeed, laid-back but swinging, peaceful but never boring, serious but thoroughly enjoyable, playful and seriously good, like a good woman telling you it’s time to come in for dinner, like a belt of whiskey on a Saturday evening.


While the original 1956 has a much better sleeve design, ultimately it’s the grooves that count…and these grooves do count.


— winch (author of…winch’s books)