Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hammond Song: Happy B-3 to You

I am back and will try to catch up to December, starting with this here birthday tribute. I know a big passing was just announced but today was slated for a celebration post. I promise I'll get to it soon.
Today would have been the 91st -- or the 88th, no one is completely sure -- anniversary on Earth of the man widely considered to be the quintessential organist of all time. He passed in 2005 after a long life and 50 year career, but no one who knows is going to forget who he was anytime soon.
If I had to list all the luminaries with which he played since his first record in 1956, I'd be typing until dinnertime and I ain't even ate breakfast yet. If I had to list all the hip-hoppers that have sampled his wares, I'd have to update to Windows 11, an operating system that hasn't even been invented yet.
No one made a Hammond B-3 beast scream and wail like Jimmy Smith, did they? His early records helped put the Blue Note label on the map as a commercial force, and his later Verve ones cook even hotter. By the time he got to the 1970s, he was delivering some of the most filthily funkified jams ever made.
There's no way to explain Jimmy Smith if you don't know him, other than to say that if a record of his is played at a party or on the radio at the coffee shop and it fails to get you groovin' and movin', it might be time to call the coroner because you are likely deceased. And we know how that can start to smell.
Like I was saying, this was a guy who literally played and recorded with the toppermost players of the age. If there were ever a list of Jazz royalty by instrument, this person would lead the names of the organists without reservation.
He influenced -- lit the way for, really -- all who succeeded him from Ray Charles to Larry Young to Charles Earland to Steve Winwood to Jon Lord to everyone else. There is no one alive who plays the organ who does not, in some direct way, owe a huge debt to Jimmy Smith.
A central figure in the 20th Century migration of the music of the African-American church into all forms of popular music, Jimmy Smith brought the passionate fire of Sunday morning into a new Saturday night context, using the instrument as central as any to the worship service to help ignite a secular revolution that reverberates to this day.
To commemorate this gigantic titan of the music of our age, I have gone full weird and placed two items -- which, together, make a pretty dastardly single 72-minute CD -- into the cloud, one an archival unreleased gem and the other a high-def transfer of a record that hasn't been in print since 1973 and itself has never appeared in the digital age. Both date from the same year -- 1972 -- and document two performances a few months apart with two similar, all-star bands... one even features B.B. King playing Jazz alongside Jimmy Smith in Yankee Stadium!
Jimmy Smith Group
live 1972

Newport in New York '72
Yankee Stadium
Bronx, NY

01 Blue N' Boogie
02 What's New
03 Since I Fell for You
04 The Man I Love
05 Ode to Billie Joe
06 Please Send Me Someone to Love

Total time: 32:47

Clark Terry - flugelhorn
Art Farmer - trumpet
Illinois Jacquet - saxophones
Zoot Sims - saxophones
Joe Newman - saxophones
Jimmy Smith - organ
Kenny Burrell - guitar
Roy Haynes - drums
B.B. King - guitar on Track 01

sourced from a 24/192 transfer of a long OOP LP, converted to 16/44 and tracked by EN

Berliner Jazztage
Berlin, Germany

01 intro by Ulf Drechsel
02 Walkin'
03 Satin Doll
04 I'm a Fool to Want You
05 improvisation

Total time: 39:13

Clark Terry - flugelhorn
Art Farmer - trumpet
Illinois Jacquet - saxophones
James Moody - saxophones and flute
Jimmy Smith - organ
Kenny Burrell - guitar
Roy Haynes - drums

sourced from a 2010 Kulturradio rebroadcast
both shows zipped together
I adjusted the volume of the Berlin set to match the Bronx one, so they play seamlessly as one program, as well as inserting track markers where they belonged for the Yankee Stadium record. I shall return very soon with tributes to the fallen, but for now pull this slab of organissimo down and paste your ears and hips to what it has on offer, largely courtesy of one Jimmy Smith... born this day in 1925 and gone from us more than a decade, but more able to deliver the goods from beyond the grave than many of today's so-called artists can do whilst breathing.--J.
12.8.1925 - 2.5.2005

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