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With the passing of organ legend Jimmy Smith on February 8th, the jazz world lost a boundless innovator and a good old friend. His final recording, the appropriately titled Legacy, proves that, even in his seventies, he was still the man on the B3. He shares the bill with disciple Joey DeFrancesco, once hailed as the precocious child in the Hammond dynasty.
The disc cooks from jump with the nimble title track and the duo shines on Smith's wicked "Dot Com Blues. The pace slows down with the soulful "I'll Close My Eyes, then picks up again as Smith and DeFrancesco race like madmen through a Latinized version of "Back at the Chicken Shack. "Jones'n For Elvin, a tribute to another recently departed jazz master, opens fittingly with a thrashing drum statement, then settles down with the organists trading off in the blues groove. The arrangement of "Corcovado initially follows the standard outline, lilting strings and all, then the duo conspires to bleed it beyond its established borders and set it down in another country altogether. Smith's down-low, salty singing highlights the funky "I've Got My Mojo Workin', and their rum-soaked take on Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas is so good that it actually leaves Newk's original a couple of knots out in the Caribbean.
It was said that in the wake of the Marsalis-led resurgence of jazz in the '80s, DeFrancesco helped people to rediscover the pleasures of the Hammond B3 organ. This was a clear case of creationism usurping evolution. Just because the public chose to look askance at jazz during those waning years doesn't mean that Jimmy Smith and other great jazzmen had gone anywhere. He was always here for us. From the flick of the organ's on switch to the last note played, Jimmy Smith was the blueprint and the foundation. He knew he was bad. Everybody knew.
Track Listing: 1)Legacy
2)Dot Com Blues
3)I'll Close My Eyes
4)Back at the Chicken Shack
5)Jones'n For Elvin
6)Off the Top
7)Corcovado (Quiet Nights)
8)I've Got My Mojo Workin'
10)Blues for Bobby C.
Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco--Organ
James Moody--Tenor Saxophone
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.