Jimmy Smith in concert for this Easter Sunday. The man who turned the world on to the Jazz possibilities of the Hammond B-3 and created an undisputed link between Soul and Jazz improvisation in the 1960s. It’s safe to say, Smith was the inspiration for an entire generation of Keyboard players – and his imprint on Rock and Soul, as a Jazz artist, is inestimable.
He was also the catalyst for bringing to prominence a number of other keyboard players at the time – my recollection was finding out from Smith about Wild Bill Davis and Brother Jack MdDuff (on one end of the spectrum) and the Brazilian B-3 player Walter Wanderley (on the other end of the spectrum). In between was Brian Auger and Jimmy McGriff and the whole world opened up.
Prior to that, the Hammond wasn’t considered a jazz instrument per sé. It was used in Jazz settings on occasion, Count Basie used it. Fats Waller did several sessions in the 1920s – but aside from those instances, the Organ wasn’t fully taken into consideration as an instrument of Jazz until Smith came along and.
This concert, recorded in Paris in 1969 and broadcast by Radio France was typical of the hug popularity Jimmy Smith had enjoyed in the 1960s and illustrates just how influential he was during those years.
Sadly, Jimmy Smith isn’t still with us – having died suddenly in 2005 at age 79. But luckily, all his albums are still in print and he continues to influence up-and-coming musicians over just what is possible with a Hammond B-3.
For those of you who missed him the first time around – check this concert out and go exploring from there – definitely worth it. And further proof there’s a little Jimmy Smith in everybody.
Play loud, move freely – and get funky.