On this date in 1928 the master of the Hammond B3, Jimmy Smith was born. I have been listening to Jimmy Smith’s music since he late 60s when I discovered Wes Montgomery and then Jimmy & Wes an album by the two masters that they released in 1966. I love to put on a Jimmy Smith album at work and well just let it flow!! So let’s have some morning music to start our Sunday and to honor Jimmy on his birthday. But first some background….. from AllMusic
Jimmy Smith wasn’t the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did;Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and ’60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith’s example.
James Oscar Smith was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on December 8, 1928 (some sources cite his birth year as 1925). Smith’s father was a musician and entertainer, and young Jimmy joined his song-and-dance act when he was six years old. By the time he was 12, Smith was an accomplished stride piano player who won local talent contests, but when his father began having problems with his knee and gave up performing to work as a plasterer, Jimmy quit school after eighth grade and began working odd jobs to help support the family. At 15, Smith joined the Navy, and when he returned home, he attended music school on the GI Bill, studying at the Hamilton School of Music and the Ornstein School, both based in Philadelphia. Continue Reading for complete biography
and from Wikipedia:
While the electric organ had been used in jazz by Fats Waller, Count Basie, Wild Bill Davis and others, Smith’s virtuoso improvisationtechnique on the Hammond helped to popularize the electric organ as a jazz and blues instrument. The B3 and companion Leslie speaker produce a distinctive sound, including percussive “clicks” with each key stroke. Smith’s style on fast tempo pieces combined bluesy “licks” with bebop-based single note runs. For ballads, he played walking bass lines on the bass pedals. For uptempo tunes, he would play the bass line on the lower manual and use the pedals for emphasis on the attack of certain notes, which helped to emulate the attack and sound of a string bass.
Smith influenced a constellation of jazz organists, including Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack McDuff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Joey DeFrancesco and Larry Goldings, as well as rock keyboardists such as Jon Lord, Brian Auger and Keith Emerson. More recently, Smith influenced bands such as the Beastie Boys, who sampled the bassline from “Root Down (and Get It)” from Root Down—and saluted Smith in the lyrics—for their own hit “Root Down,” Medeski, Martin & Wood, and the Hayden-Eckert Ensemble. Often called the father ofacid jazz, Smith lived to see that movement come to reflect Smith’s organ style. In the 1990s, Smith went to Nashville, taking a break from his ongoing gigs at his Sacramento restaurant which he owned and, in Music City, Nashville, he produced, with the help of a webmaster, Dot Com Blues, his last Verve album. In 1999, Smith guested on two tracks of a live album, Incredible!, the hit from the 1960s, with his protégé, Joey DeFrancesco, a then 28-year-old organist. Smith and DeFrancesco’s collaborative album Legacy was released in 2005 shortly after Smith’s death. Read More
and now the sad part of the story…..
….. In 2004, Smith was honored as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts; that same year, Smith relocated from Los Angeles to Scottsdale, Arizona. Several months after settling in Scottsdale, Smith’s wife succumbed to cancer, and while he continued to perform and record, Jimmy Smith was found dead in his home less than a year later, on February 8, 2005. His final album, Legacy, was released several months after his passing.
As I look down Jimmy’s vast discography at AllMusic among my favorites is his 1991 release Fourmost, a reunion album with his 30 plus-year associates tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and guitarist Kenny Burrell along with drummer Grady Tate.
So let’s say Happy Birthday and Thanks to Jimmy Smith with a 1993 performance of “Organ Grinders Swing” with Jimmy Smith playing with mates; Kenny Burrell on guitar; Grady Tate on drums and Herman Riley playing the part of Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax!