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Jimmy Smith: Music for Lovers

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This Music for Lovers compilation is probably the most restrained Jimmy Smith collection ever compiled, and it allows a rarely presented side of Smith's work from 1957-1960 to be spotlit. It's also an ideal showcase for Smith as delicately tasteful accompanist.

An apt comparison would be to Oscar Peterson during the '50s. All that virtouso grandstanding could chill to a hush when he accompanied, say, Billie Holiday. The same is true about Smith. The first tune of this thoughtfully packaged collection is a version of "My One and Only Love" where the clearly dominant lyrical voice is trumpeter Blue Mitchell's, setting the tone for the entire disc. Peerlessly lush horn solos by Ike Quebec, Lou Donaldson, Jackie McLean and Lee Morgan follow triumphantly. Not that Smith disappears as they shine—it is just that the Mr. Happy Funk persona fades in the shadow and the blues colorist with a light touch on the Hammond prevails.

Smith sounds downright taciturn in his dialogue with soul-mate guitarist Kenny Burrell, and his interplay with Lee Morgan on "Flamingo" sounds like part of a film noir soundtrack. The only supporting player you would expect on any Jimmy Smith overview, Stanley Turrentine, is oddly absent, but Donaldson's tangy solo on "Lover Man" has a taste of Turrentine's flavor attached to it.

I can imagine that Smith's numerous fans who have loved his take-no-prisoners, full-throttle organ extravaganzas will find this disc too tepid for their taste. Their loss—but they have dozens of other Smith collections available. For those of us who need an occasional departure from the human whirlwind, this is a delicious gift. Jimmy Smith was an Apollo as well as Dionysus at the organ, and he is sorely missed in all guises.


Track Listing: My One and Only Love; Time After Time; Willow Weep for Me; Lover Man; Little Girl Blue; Embraceable You; Angel Eyes; It Could Happen to You; Flamingo.

Personnel: Jimmy Smith: organ; Blue Mitchell: trumpet: Donald Bailey: drums; Ray Crawgford: guitar; Lou Donaldson: alto sax; Kenny Burrell: guitar: Jackie McLean: alto sax; Lee Morgan: trumpet; and others.

Title: Music for Lovers | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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