www.johnnysmith.org is the official website of jazz guitarist Johnny Smith and is operated on behalf of the Johnny Smith Estate.
© 2015, The Johnny Smith Estate
On 25 June 2012, Johnny Smith celebrated his 90th birthday in Colorado Springs. Johnny retired from playing some years ago, but to many of us he is still the Master and his musicianship remains unrivaled. Starting with his landmark recording of 'Moonlight in Vermont', which was released 60 years ago, Johnny set new standards in plectrum jazz guitar playing. He showed everybody the previously unrealized potential of the instrument. Importantly, his superior technical virtuosity was always accompanied by his impeccable sense of good taste, and the result was that nobody could touch him. We all owe Johnny a huge debt of gratitude. Many of his innovations are taken for granted these days, but without his input the world of the jazz guitar would be a much different and poorer place.
Johnny Smith -
From this distance in time, it is difficult to appreciate that his use of strict alternate picking, which is the standard plectrum technique today, was an innovative concept in the late 1940s. Johnny's skill with the pick was breathtaking, and as a result of his diligent practice he was the first guitarist to match Django Reinhardt's command of the plectrum. Meanwhile, his left hand technique was equal to that of his right hand. With immaculate coordination between the two, he employed three-
By Lin Flanagan. Reproduced from Just Jazz Guitar (August 2012)
Johnny's approach to the plectrum guitar was meticulous. He was the first jazz guitarist to possess a classical musician's sense of technique. In this respect, he was the first player to truly take the instrument seriously. He transferred several classical ideologies and techniques across to the plectrum guitar. From the very first note of any of Johnny's recordings, the first aspect to immediately grab the attention of the listener is his full-
|An Appreciation (Part 1)|
|An Appreciation (Part 2)|
|An Appreciation (Part 3)|
|Interview (Part 1)|
|Interview (Part 2)|
|Albums on Other Labels|
|Moonlight in Vermont|