Jazz Organist Jimmy Smith Jazz Organist Jimmy Smith My Pick: “Back at the Chicken Shack “/Blue Note

\ Hammond organist Jimmy Smith has made a lot of albums. Like many artists, his early material tends to be fresh and power-packed -- real burners. This is some of the finest soul jazz -- groove music -- ever made. There are two main types of Smith recordings, those in a small group (2 - 4 players) and those with a big band. Both modes have fans. Many feel (myself included) that the Hammond organ itself is like a big band and therefore tends to get lost in a lot of instruments. Prior to March of 1962 and the album “Bashin’” (his first big-band date), Smith’s recordings are in small group format. These are my favorite albums because, in a duo, trio, or quartet, there is great clarity in all of the instruments. These pre-1962 albums include a lot of great soul-jazz albums in the small group format, so you have a lot to choose from. At the top of the list are two albums recorded at a single date in April of 1960, “Back at the Chicken Shack” and “Midnight Special”. These have Smith with the great Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax and Kenny Burrell on guitar. Don’t miss them. Another real jammer from a later period is “Organ Grinder Swing” (1965). These albums are essential Smith and classic soul jazz jams. Other fine Jimmy Smith albums with a small group include “The Sermon” (1958) and “Prayer Meeting” (1960), “Cool Blues” (1958), and “Crazy! Baby” (1960). The highlights of Smith’s big-band albums start with “Bashin’” (1962) and include “The Cat” (1964), “Got My Mojo Workin’” (1965), “Peter and the Wolf” (1966), and two albums of Smith with guitarist Wes Montgomery that include arrangements by Oliver Nelson, “The Dynamic Duo” (1966) and “Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes” (1966). Since the mid-1980s, Smith has again issued a number of recordings in smallgroup format. While they don’t have quite the fire of the early albums, they still are worth listening to and often include many of the players on the original session. Some of the best are “Go for Watcha’ Know” (1986) and “Foremost” (1990), both with Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax and Kenny Burrell on guitar. Another is “Prime Time” (1989). As a Sideman: With Stanley Turrentine on “Straight Ahead” and Kenny Burrell on “Ellington is Forever, Vol. 1 & 2”. Michael@Erlewine.net

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