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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


JIMMY SMITH

Live at the Club Baby Grand, Vol. 1

Blue Note 0946 3 92785 2 7

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JIMMY SMITH

Live at the Club Baby Grand, Vol. 2

Blue Note 0946 3 92787 2 5

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JIMMY SMITH

Live at the Club Baby Grand, Vol. 1

Blue Note 0946 3 92785 2 7
1. Introduction by Mitch Thomas
2. Sweet Georgia Brown
3. Where or When
4. The Preacher
5. Rosetta

JIMMY SMITH

Live at the Club Baby Grand, Vol. 2

Blue Note 0946 3 92787 2 5
 
1. Caravan
2. Love is a Many Splendored Thing
3. Get Happy
4. It's All Right With Me
 
Jimmy Smith - Organ
Thornel Schwartz - Guitar
Donald Bailey - Drums
 

Jimmy Smith started as a pianist but it was lucky for us that he heard Wild Bill Davis playing an early model of the Hammond organ and decided to buy one. Jimmy Smith may have been preceded by Wild Bill in taking up the Hammond organ but he established a highly influential style on the instrument: supplying a strong bass rhythm on the pedals and exploring the many possibilities of the instrument's range of sounds.

Jimmy was signed to the Blue Note label in 1956 and proceeded to make a plethora of albums, of which these two 1956 live sessions comprised the third and fourth LPs, now reissued in remastered form by Rudy Van Gelder. Despite the remastering, the sound is sometimes fuzzy, as in Caravan, the first track on the second CD. While I'm considering the downside of these albums, it seems as if Jimmy wasn't quite sure of the melodies of Sweet Georgia Brown and Love is a Many Splendored Thing, so that the theme statements sound approximate rather than spot-on.

On the plus side, these two albums show why Jimmy Smith was such a pioneer with the Hammond organ. His solos mix long-held notes with streams of staccato single notes, sometimes delivered so swiftly as to sound as if he has more than the normal number of fingers. Meanwhile his feet add a constantly funky bass rhythm which drives the music along. And the blues feeling at the heart of all his playing is evident in tracks like The Preacher. Miraculously, Schwartz and Bailey manage to keep up with him.
Neither of these CDs lasts for more than 42 minutes, so it seems a shame that they couldn't be squeezed onto a single disc, especially as nearly a minute at the start of the first CD is occupied by a local DJ introducing the trio. Nonetheless, these albums give an interesting taste of Jimmy Smith in his early days.

Tony Augarde



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