Jimmy Smith, B-3 – Midnight Special – Blue Note/Analogue Productions

by | Aug 5, 2011 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Jimmy Smith, B-3 – Midnight Special – Blue Note/Analogue Productions stereo-only SACD ST-84978, 36.8 min. [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

(Jimmy Smith, organ; Stanley Turrentine, tenor sax; Kenny Burrell, elec. guitar; Donald Bailey, drums)  

Smith, who died in 2005, almost single-handedly helped popularize the Hammond B-3 electric organ in jazz, and this is one of his best album sessions, originally out on a Blue Note LP in 1961.  He had only started exploring the B-3 in 1951, and spent a year in a warehouse in New York, practicing every day.  The result was new sort of sound on the B-3 which got the former pianist nicknamed “The Incredible Jimmy Smith.”

Smith made a real blues and jazz instrument out of the Hammond. He leaned on the Leslie speakers, and created a distinctive sound with percussive clicks on each key note. He used the organ pedals for strong walking bass lines – notice there’s no string bass in this band.  At faster tempi he played the bass line on the lower manual of the B-3.  He influenced many of today’s jazz organists, and Joey DeFrancesco was his protégé.

This album is a meeting of jazz giants Smith and Turrentine. Stanley mirrors the sound world of rich-sounding tenor sax diplomates such as Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. The sound of the B-3 and sax has a lot of heft and impact and really swings this quartet. The opening track establishes the style, and it allows plenty of time for an extended Kenny Burrell guitar solo. “Jumpin’ the Blues” takes us to Kansas City with an entry from the Charlie Parker-Jay McShann book. And “Why Was I Born?” brings a lovely tenor sax solo by Turrentine.

The low-end notes of all four instruments retain a great clarity and impact. Great to have this important Jimmy Smith classic in hi-res stereo.

Midnight Special; A Subtle One; Jumpin’ the Blues; Why Was I Born?; One O’Clock Jump

 — John Henry

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