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Jimmy Smith: Plays Fats Waller

David Rickert By

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It makes sense that Jimmy Smith recorded an album's worth of Fats Waller tunes, since Waller himself was a pioneer on the organ in a jazz context. But it makes even more sense when you consider that Smith applied the single note runs of a pianist to his instrument, and Waller, no slouch on the piano himself, must have been an irresistible target for Smith's treatment.

Despite the lineup, any of Jimmy Smith's Blue Note records are pretty much the same and delivered at a consistently high level of musicianship. This one, originally released in 1962, is notable as an exclusive outing for Smith, who is joined only by Donald Bailey, his long time drummer, and Quentin Warren, who never solos and only comps in the background. Thus Smith is allowed to attack the organ in gusts and swoops without interruption—and what a treat it is. He rolls through Waller classics like "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Ain't Misbehavin'" at a simmer, turning these and other numbers into a slow soulful groove. Smith delighted in the dynamics possible with the B-3 and uses them judiciously on "Everybody Loves My Baby" which starts out gently but then builds to a crescendo.

This CD, while not his best, is just as good as a lot of other Smith releases out there. It's a good place to start for the uninitiated, and a glorious sounding remaster for everyone else.

Track Listing: Everybody Loves My Baby; Squeeze Me; Ain't She Sweet; Ain't Misbehavin'; Lulu's Back In Town; Honeysuckle Rose; I've Got A Brand New Baby.

Personnel: Jimmy Smith: organ; Quentin Warren: guitar; Donald Bailey: drums.

Title: Plays Fats Waller | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


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