"The Incredible Jimmy Smith cemented his reputation as the king of jazz organ during his prolific residency at Blue Note from 1956-63, as both a leader and collaborator with labelmates. His popularity and record sales helped the label grow and foster new talent. When he returned to Blue Note later in his career, it was only appropriate that they revisit and restore those early releases so essential for Smith's, and Blue Note's, legacy.
Home Cookin' is the seventh and latest Smith reissue remastered by Rudy Van Gelder for the RVG series. On this material drawn from three sessions in 1958 and 1959, Smith explores the blues with guitarist Kenny Burrell, drummer Donald Bailey, and guest saxophonist Percy France. Like a previous CD reissue, the RVG edition contains the seven original LP tracks plus three other songs and two alternate takes culled from the same recording sessions. The bonus material fleshes out the CD, but it doesn't add any revelations.
Smith keeps his dazzling organ feats in check, the group favoring a slow to mid-tempo pace, emphasizing lyricism and moodfor late-night thinking or unwinding from the day's work. Ma Rainey's classic "See See Rider gets an unhurried treatment and a couple of smoldering, emotive solos by France. Smith's deft bass pedal footwork pushes Burrell's "Sugar Hill, prompting the guitarist to unwind several cleanly phrased lines, teasing the melody to avoid repetition. The leader's walking bass line propels "Messin' Around, a grooving mid-tempo vamp with close ensemble interplay through its quirky head and accented hits. The group also matches wits on "Come on Baby, mirroring each other's phrases in a series of solos and exchanges from Burrell, Smith, and France over Bailey's relentless beat. The drummer's crafty, unselfish playing consistently supports the soloists, but is never featured.
Though Smith's artistic rejuvenation was cut short by his death earlier this year, he experienced a renewed interest in his music, something that sadly eludes too many mature artists during their lifetime.
1. See See Rider (6:33); 2. Sugar Hill (5:17); 3. I Got A Woman (3:54); 4. Messin
Jimmy Smith: organ; Percy France: tenor saxophone; Kenny Burrell: guitar; Donald Bailey: drums