Jimmy Smith, Live in ’69 (2009) (Jazz Icons IV series)

by | Oct 27, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Jimmy Smith, Live in ’69 (2009) (Jazz Icons IV series)

Filmed in France in 1969 with Jimmy Smith, B-3; Eddie McFadden, guitar; Charlie Crosby, drums
Studio: Naxos/ Jazz Icons 2119017 [Release date: 10/27/09]  
Video: 4:3 B&W
Audio: Dolby mono
All regions
Extras: 24-page llustrated booklet with notes by Ashley Kahn & Bob Porter
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: ****

Unlike some of the films in the Jazz Icons series, this one looks like it was actually broadcast, with credits running twice for two programs. Unfortunately, there is a problem with the low end of the audio spectrum on many of the tracks – a very annoying distortion not heard on any of the other Jazz Icon DVDs in this or the first three series. I thought at first it was due to exaggeration of some artifacts caused by my running the mono signal (wish they would make it plain PCM stereo instead of Dolby) thru Dolby ProLogic II Matrix for a surround effect, but feeding it directly from the mono out if sounded the same.

Jimmy Smith was one of those jazz innovators who took their respective instruments beyond the accepted limits and re-invented them for all those who followed. Smith made the Hammond B-3 a standard front-line jazz instrument and all the B-3 players since are indebted to him. He had locked himself away in a storage room with a B-3 and spent a year working out a variety of settings and techniques for his highly individual sound. He would jump from one manual of the organ to another, double the bass line by playing the same pattern on the left hand and on the pedals, sometimes return one hand quickly to the other manual for a percussive accompanying effect.  

Smith had left the small bars and clubs behind by the 60s and was playing the theaters and festival stages. He often playing top venues in France.  In December of 1969 he played the Salle Pleyel stage in Paris and TV cameras captured the evening, which we see here. There are plenty of different camera angles and close ups of the three players. The trio played two sets that night, the first mostly ballads taken from Smith’s recent Verve albums, and the second more blues-based. Smith used two of the Leslie rotating-speaker cabinets onstage.  He even does a vocal on Got My Mojo Working.  Of the 11 tunes, a highlight is Smith’s 23-minute version of The Sermon, which had been a big hit for him on his 1958 Blue Note LP.

TrackList: Sonnymoon for Two, Days of Wine and Roses, The Sermon, Alfie, Satin Doll, Organ Grinder’s Swing, Got My Mojo Working, See See Rider, A Funky Blues Called I Don’t Know, My Romance, Satin Doll.

 – John Henry

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