Home » Jazz Musicians » Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith is an NEA Jazz Master

Born James Oscar Smith in Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA. Smith was influenced by both gospel and blues. He first achieved prominence in the 1950s where his recordings became popular on jukeboxes before there were commonly used terms to describe his unique musical flavor. In the sixties and seventies he helped create the jazz style known as 'funk' or 'soul jazz'. There had been earlier limited use of the electronic organ in jazz (notably by Fats Waller and Count Basie), though these early examples sometimes had a novelty feel. Smith is widely recognized as introducing the electric organ as a legitimate musical instrument, capable of virtuoso improvisation. Smith employed a unique technique to emulate a string bass player on the organ. Although he played walking bass lines on the pedals on ballads, for uptempo tunes, he would play the bass line on the lower manual and use the pedals for emphasis on the attack of certain notes. His solos were characterised by percussive chords mixed with very fast melodic improvisation with the right hand. He generally used a drawbar registration of 868000000 or 888000000 on the lower manual, which he used for the bass line and comping chords. He used a similar registration on the upper manual, which he used for soloing, but with the addition of the Hammond's percussion circuit. Smith was a prolific recording artist. He first recorded with the Blue Note label in 1956. His early albums with Blue Note sold very well, improving its financial viability and aiding the label's efforts to promote other artists. They include Home Cookin' , The Sermon!, Midnight Special, Prayer Meetin' , and Back at the Chicken Shack. Smith signed to Verve Records label in 1963. Smith's albums with Verve include: The Cat, The Boss, Root Down, Peter & The Wolf, Any Number Can Win, The Incredible..., Bashin' , Got My Mojo Workin' , Christmas Cookin' , and Organ Grinder Swing. It was in this period that he began a regular collaboration with Guitarist Wes Montgomery, with whom he recorded two albums: The Dynamic Duo with Wes Montgomery and Further Adventures Of Jimmy and Wes. Smith recorded with a full orchestra and worked with arrangers and conductors such as Lalo Schifrin and Oliver Nelson. He also worked in small groups that featured many of the best jazz musicians of his era: Kenny Burrell, Donald "Duck" Bailey, Grady Tate, Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean and Stanley Turrentine among them.

Read more

Tags

Joey DeFrancesco
organ, Hammond B3
Steve Homan
guitar
The GroovaLottos
band/orchestra
Terry Edwards
saxophone
Matthew Whitaker
multi-instrumentalist
Robert Kennedy
organ, Hammond B3
Dave Mattock
organ, Hammond B3
Vel Lewis
organ, Hammond B3
Happiefingerz
multi-instrumentalist
Andreas Hellkvist
organ, Hammond B3
Organ Fairchild
organ, Hammond B3
Jimmy Layton
keyboards
Ari Joshua
guitar
Jamie Bullock
piano and vocals
Frankie Sorci
keyboards
Daniel Latorre
organ, Hammond B3

Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

A Date With Jimmy...

Fresh Sound Records
2011

buy

Plays The Hits

Verve Music Group
2010

buy

Sit On It /...

101 Distribution
2010

buy

Three Classic Albums

101 Distribution
2010

buy

Got My Mojo Workin' /...

Verve Music Group
2009

buy

Plays Fats Waller

Blue Note Records
2009

buy

Videos

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.