Jimmy Smith

Born James Oscar Smith and originally a pianist, Smith switched to organ in 1953 after hearing Wild Bill Davis. He purchased his first Hammond organ, rented a warehouse to practice in and emerged after little more than a year with an exciting new sound which was to completely revolutionize the way in which the instrument could be played. On hearing him playing in a Philadelphia club, Blue Note’s Alfred Lion immediately signed him to the label and with his second album, also known as The Champ, quickly established Smith as a new star on the jazz scene. He was a prolific recording artist and as a leader, recorded around 40 sessions for Blue Note in just 8 years beginning in 1956. His most notable albums from this period include The Sermon!, House Party, Home Cookin’ , Midnight Special, Back at the Chicken Shack and Prayer Meetin’ .

Smith then signed to Verve Records label in 1962. His first album Bashin’, sold well and for the first time set Smith with a big band, led by Oliver Nelson. Further big band collaborations followed, most successfully with Lalo Schifrin for The Cat and guitarist Wes Montgomery, with whom he recorded two albums: The Dynamic Duo and Further Adventures Of Jimmy and Wes. Other notable albums from this period include Blue Bash and Organ Grinder’s Swing with Kenny Burrell, The Boss with George Benson, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Got My Mojo Working, and the funky Root Down.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Smith recorded with some of the great jazz musicians of the day such as Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Grant Green, Stanley Turrentine, Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, Grady Tate and Donald Bailey. In the 1970s, Smith opened his own supper club in Los Angeles, California and played there regularly. With guitarist Paul C. Saenz, Larry Paxton, on drums, Freddy Garcia, on saxophone.

Smith had a career revival in the 1980s and 1990s, again recording for Blue Note and Verve, and for Milestone and Elektra. Smith also recorded with other artists including Quincy Jones/Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Joey DeFrancesco. His last major album Dot Com Blues (Blue Thumb, 2000), featured many special guests such as Dr. John, B. B. King and Etta James.

Website

Records:

  1. Jimmy Smith – I Got A Woman, Metro
  2. Jimmy Smith – Who´s Afraid of Virginia Woolf(pt.1&2), Verve
  3. Jimmy SmithSonnymoon for two, Blue Note
  4. Jimmy SmithSome of my best friends are blues, Metro
  5. Jimmy SmithWho’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Verve
  6. Jimmy SmithCaravan, Blue Note
  7. Jimmy SmithOff the top, Elektra Records
  8. Jimmy SmithDancin on the ceiling, Guest Star Records
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