Jimmy Smith RIP

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Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby ricochet » Wed Feb 09, 2005 5:02 pm

Last night I saw on the Hamtech list that Jimmy Smith was found dead in his apartment yesterday.
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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby bradk » Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:22 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-09-05 AT 04:53 PM (EST)]Damn, I hadn't heard anything about that. He wrote the book on jazz organ, bluesy as hell. I'll have to throw on "The Sermon" tonight and pay some respects. RIP
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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby ricochet » Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:01 am

Found this morning on allaboutjazz.com:

Jimmy Smith: King of the Hammond B-3 Organ
Posted: 2005-02-09
Jimmy Smith
Born: December 8, 1928 in Norristown, PA
Died: February 8, 2005 in New York, NY (???)
By Todd S. Jenkins
For all its versatility, the Hammond B-3 organ has had comparatively few
champions in jazz, none greater than Jimmy Smith. The nearly unchallenged
master of the jazz organ, humorous and soulful to the very end, died at
home on
February 8, 2005, exactly two months after his 76th birthday.

Smith studied piano at Philadelphia's Orenstein and Hamilton Schools of Music
in the late 1940s. In 1951, at the age of 23, he switched to the organ because
he enjoyed its sound and potential. Soon it became his principal professional
instrument. Not long after he erupted into New York's consciousness at the
Bohemia in the early 1950s, Smith became the voice of the B-3 in jazz
His fusion of R&B, gospel, deep blues and jazz were an irresistible force at
the rise of “hard bop”, a fresh new sound that set the jazz scene aflame.

Smith made his first of many recordings for Blue Note in February 1956 (issued
as A New Voice, A New Star, Vols. 1 and 2). A lauded appearance at the 1957
Newport Jazz Festival really set things in motion for Smith. Between his debut
session and 1963's Rockin' the Boat Smith made nearly forty albums during his
first tenure with Blue Note. Back at the Chicken Shack and Midnight Special
back-to-back hits in 1960, forever sealing Smith's reputation as the primary
voice of jazz Hammond. His fluid interactions with sidemen like Stanley
Turrentine, Kenny Burrell, Jackie McLean and Lee Morgan made for some of the
most enjoyable sounds of the era.

In 1962 Smith began recording for the Verve label, where he continued to
maintain his prominence. Some of his most exciting and popular recordings were
in the company of big bands, including a titanic version of the “Walk on the
Wild Side” theme (Bashin', 1962, arranged by Oliver Nelson) and The Cat (1964,
arranged by Lalo Schifrin). Along the way he developed an infectious onstage
persona, telling ribald jokes and getting the audience involved with
performances. But after the tremendous 1972 live session, Root Down, was
released, Smith's fortunes took a downward turn.

Throughout the 1970s Smith continued to tour vigorously but slid from label to
label, cutting uninspired albums for MGM, DJM and Mercury where he tried his
hand at such quickly-tarnishing pop hits as “Pipeline” and “Groovin'”. A 1980
reunion with Schifrin, The Cat Strikes Again (Inner City), showed a bit of
promise but was still miles from his prior achievements. A period with Elektra
better boosted his profile, despite the continuance of questionable covers. By
the time Smith returned to the reconstituted Blue Note in 1986 (Go For Whatcha
Know, with Burrell, Turrentine and bassist Buster Williams), the public seemed
ready to embrace the wild man of the organ once more. With further sessions
Milestone (Fourmost, 1990) and Verve (Damn!, 1995) Smith was soon back at the
apex of organ jazz. He continued to cover both new ground and old, often
reaching back to his early blues inspirations.

In November 2004, Smith was announced as one of the National Endowment for the
Arts' Jazz Masters fellows. Smith's last completed recording was Legacy, a
session with new-generation organist Joey DeFrancesco, due to be released one
week after Smith's death. The album features the legendary master and one of
his most ardent followers interpreting some of Smith's best material, such as
”Back to the Chicken Shack”, “Got My Mojo Workin'”, and the more recent “Dot
Com Blues”.

Smith and DeFrancesco were scheduled to perform together at Yoshi's in
California from February 16-20, 2005. That will now be a tribute show led by
DeFrancesco. Further information can be found at
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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby blueswriter » Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:23 am

Definitely one of the kings of B-3 Blues playing. He will be greatly missed.

http://www.blue-note-club.ch/program/20 ... th_400.jpg
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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby allanlummox » Thu Feb 10, 2005 6:24 am

Yea, he created some of the coolest, most distinctive sounds out there, and he was a HUGE influence on a lot of great players in a lot of different styles - including the late Albert Collins. (You have to listen JUST RIGHT to hear it, but there it is.)
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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby bosco » Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:50 pm

My former guitar player's older brother is a keyboard nut. His two pricipal heroes were Otis Spann and Jimmy Smith.

Pretty heady company there...rest in peace, Jimmy.


"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it."
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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby jellyroll baker » Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:14 pm

A huge influence on everyone - listen closely to the sounds in the nighclubs and you can hear the DJ's channeling him, whether they know it or not.

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RE: Jimmy Smith RIP

Postby ricochet » Fri Feb 11, 2005 3:17 am

Here's an interesting article:
http://news.independent.co.uk/people/ob ... ory=609460

And the New York Times' obit:

Jimmy Smith, Jazz Organist and Pioneer, Is Dead at 76

Published: February 10, 2005

immy Smith, who made the Hammond organ one of the most popular sounds in jazz
beginning in the mid-1950's, died on Tuesday at his home in Phoenix. He was
He died of unspecified natural causes, said his stepson and former manager,
Michael Ward, who also said that his age of 76 was based on his birth
certificate and not the birth date found in most reference books.
Before Jimmy Smith, the electric organ had been nearly a novelty in jazz; it
was he who made it an important instrument in the genre and influenced nearly
every subsequent notable organist in jazz and rock, including Jimmy McGriff,
Jack McDuff, Larry Young, Shirley Scott, Al Kooper and Joey DeFrancesco.
By 1955 - which coincidentally was the year Hammond introduced its most
popular model, the B-3 - he had an organ trio with a new sound that would
thereafter become the model for groups in what became known as "organ rooms," the urban
bars up and down the East Coast specializing in precisely the kind of
blues-oriented, swinging, funky music that Mr. Smith epitomized. He continued touring
and recording until just before his death.
Born in 1928, Mr. Smith grew up in a musical family in Norristown, Pa., near
Philadelphia; by his early teens he was competently playing stride piano and
performing as a dancer in a team with his father, a day-laboring plasterer who
also played piano at night.
He left school in the eighth grade, never to return, and joined the Navy at
the age of 15. When he finished his service in 1947, he played professionally
and studied music for two years on the G.I. bill at the Ornstein School of
In the early 1950's he worked around Philadelphia, playing rhythm and blues
with Don Gardner's Sonotones. In 1952, or perhaps 1953, he met Wild Bill Davis,
the organ player who pioneered the organ-trio format, at a club. Mr. Smith
asked him how long it would take to learn the organ; Davis replied that it would
take years to learn the pedals alone. (In Mr. Smith's retelling, the number
of years varied between 4 and 15.) Playing piano at night and practicing organ
during the day, Mr. Smith studied a chart of the instrument's 25 foot pedals
and claimed that he played fluent walking-bass lines with his feet within three
By 1955 he was on his way to making his new organ trio sound pervasive.
Like many other great jazz musicians, Mr. Smith insisted that the key to
finding his own sound was through studying musicians who did not play his
"While others think of the organ as a full orchestra," he wrote in a short
piece for The Hammond Times in 1964, "I think of it as a horn. I've always been
an admirer of Charlie Parker, and I try to sound like him. I wanted that
single-line sound like a trumpet, a tenor or an alto saxophone."
He also made heavy use of the B-3's "percussion" sound, a circuit controlled
by one of its drawbar switches that gives it a leaner tone, closer to that of
a piano.
Partly through the agency of Babs Gonzalez, the singer and radio disc jockey,
Mr. Smith was signed to the Blue Note label, making his first albums for the
label in 1956; some well-received gigs that year at the Cafe Bohemia in New
York heightened the excitement about his new sound.
He made many popular records for Blue Note and Verve, among them "Groovin' at
Small's Paradise," "The Cat" (with the arranger Lalo Schifrin), a few records
with the guitarist Wes Montgomery and in 1965 his vocal version of "Got My
Mojo Workin'," arranged by Oliver Nelson.
In the mid-1970's Mr. Smith moved to Los Angeles, where he opened a club,
Jimmy Smith's Jazz Supper Club; he played there when he could and otherwise
toured in order to keep the club afloat.
He married and had a family; his survivors include a son, Jimmy Jr., and a
daughter, Jia, both of Philadelphia, as well as two sisters, Anita Johnson and
Janet Smith, also of Philadelphia.
Mr. Smith had lived in Phoenix since January 2004. Last summer he recorded
"Legacy," to be released next week on Concord, which paired him in duets with
Mr. DeFrancesco.
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DeFrancesco on Smith

Postby ricochet » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:39 pm


"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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Jimmy Smith Video

Postby ricochet » Sat May 14, 2005 10:41 pm

Here's a site with a nice 3 minute Real video on Mr. Smith: http://www.iaje.org/bio.asp?ArtistID=81

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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