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Jazz Organ Great Jimmy Smith Dead @ 79


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It's been a bad few days. Jimmy was one of the greats.

From Rolling Stone:



Organist Jimmy Smith Dies

Jazz pioneer was seventy-nine

Legendary jazz organist Jimmy Smith died Tuesday night from natural causes at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to his spokesperson. He was seventy-nine years old.

Smith revolutionized the use of the Hammond B3 in modern jazz and collaborated with other jazz heavyweights like Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, Kenny Burrell and Lou Donaldson.

Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1925, Smith began his musical career playing piano. After performing with his father throughout the Forties, he attended the Hamilton and Ornstein music schools through the early Fifties. He switched from piano to the Hammond in 1951, and made his New York debut at Cafe Bohemia. After an appearance at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, where he became the first certifiable jazz organ star, Smith launched his recording career on Blue Note Records. He toured for the next two decades, before recording for Verve and Milestone into the Nineties.

Smith's music was introduced to a new generation of rock fans in 1994, when the Beastie Boys sampled his song "Root Down" on their track of the same name. The Beasties' "Root Down," off of Ill Communication, also featured the shout-out, "Jimmy Smith is my man."

"[Jimmy Smith's] 'Root Down' was ridiculous," wrote the Beasties' Adam Yauch in the liner notes of the group's 1999 Sounds of Science anthology. "I remembered thinking, 'How can a groove be this nice?'"

After a five-year break, Smith released two albums, Fourmost Return and Dot Com Blues, in 2001. In January, he received the prestigious Jazz Masters lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


(Posted Feb 09, 2005)

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well 80 years certainly isn't a bad run

nice to hear he got that Jazz Masters lifetime achievement award a few months before he passed away

his look reminds me of the first keyboard player I saw Maceo Parker play with back in about 91 or 92... that guy was so heavy before he even played a note (like a tall, thin, black as coal reverend who could kick your ass straight to hell with a look if he felt the urge), once he was playin I could only stare in awe (while dancin though, of course)

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Also when on All Music Guide, look under guitar greats'Grant Green and Wes Montgomery sections, especially the " Credits " and " Compilation " headings. Jimmy played with a lot of talented innovators, and he layed down some of the nastiest, filthiest organ ever recorded.

I have Jimmy with the great Wes Montgomery, and it is astonishing.

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Too bad...

I really wanna like Jimmy Smith, but I find a lot of his music to be pretty contemporary dinner time jazz. Any of his albums really heavy with the Hammond groove? I find Root Down as a song to be pretty cool, but as an album, beh...

Jimmy's got a lot of funky songs, and funky organ (and bass!) playing. However, it's usually a few songs on each album that are funky, and the rest will we can probably pigeonhole into 'jazz'.

My favourite album is a 2-CD set I picked up in Germany. It's a live recording of him in concert in Paris from 1965. It's not so much funky or groovy as it is awesome. Anyway, Smith did great things with a lot of people. Nice stuff with Montgomery, excellent big band arrangements with Oliver Nelson, some of the hottest sax players. I'll miss you Jimmy.

Here's a funky tune with the electrifying Eddie Harris on sax (from "All the Way Live") (at least it's a funky intro).

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yeah his funk was scattered across his legacy, not really concentrated on a few albums like Herbie Hancock.

If yer looking for the B3 funk, try Brother Jack McDuff "Down Home Style", Lou Donaldson "Mr. Shing A Ling" (Which has session player Lonnie Smith-no relation to Jimmy) or Jimmy McGriff "Electric Funk"..actually Lonnie Smith's solo album "Move Your Hand" is a killer one too, and the cover of him in the desert in a cowboy outfit is hilarious...also Reuben Wilson, who is an old BlueNote-r and I think is still playing, and also check out the guy who was in Scofields band, Larry Green i think...

Also, recently revived labels Hot Pie and Candy(and others) have been contributing heavily to all the funk compilation series like 'Stone Cold Groove' 'Grazin in the Trash' ,'Groove Jammy' and 'Original Raw Soul'...heck even 'Strokin the Grits' !! (hehe)

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