Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

307

Jimmy Smith: Root Down

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Sharing a fate similar to many musical innovators who weather the test of time Jimmy Smith eventually became a prisoner of the very style he pioneered. Cookie-cutter sessions that paled in comparison to his early, genre-defining work have become the norm in the organist’s later years. Root Down, recently reissued as part of ‘Verve By Request’ Series, originates from the beginnings of this period in Smith’s lengthy career, but it’s still got enough grooves and grease to make it worth a listen.

The early 70s lounge vibe is thick as sweet maple syrup across the tracks, whether they’re up-tempo like the opener or laid back as on the slippery “For Everyone Under the Sun.” Many have been restored to their full lengths for the first time. Adams’ works off a Fozzi Bear shtick churning out chicken scratch riffs that sound uncannily like the famous Muppet’s signature “Wacka Wacka Wacka” laugh track. Felder’s Fender frees Smith up from bass line chores and the leader exploits the space afforded, often to the point of excess. For their parts, Humphrey and Clarke provide percussive support that while a far cry from the tightest in the business still shores up the rhythmic end of things sufficiently.

Gaining access to the expanded tracks is a treat, but listening to them in unexpurgated form the reasons behind their original truncation soon becomes evident. Over half the numbers weigh in above the ten-minute mark but frequently their girths cloak a hollow middles. The relaxed after hours feel, (not coincidentally the title of one of the tunes) often ends up being an open license for noodling and all of the players, particularly Smith stand guilty of this self-indulgent sin. The arguable highpoint of the set is the title track, heavily sampled on the same-named hit by the Beastie Boys back in 94’ (check Check Your Head ). From the outset Felder’s bass clicks with Humphrey’s syncopated sticks paving a path for the rest of the group to follow in slinky succession. Smith’s florid breaks on this one are surprisingly lightweight in comparison to the rhythm section’s self-assured, ‘in the pocket’ synergy. The crew’s take on Al Green’s quintessential soul ballad “Let’s Stay Together” fares less well, quickly miring in popcorn sentimentality.

This disc may not be a masterpiece on par with Smith’s seminal 50’s Blue Note work. But as a snapshot of the B-3 Emperor in the company of adoring younger players laying down a litany of enjoyable, if pedestrian, funk-injected grooves this long lost date is sure to hit the spot.

Tracks:Sagg Shootin’ His Arrow/ For Everyone Under the Sun/ After Hours*/ Root Down (and Get It)/ Let’s Stay Together/ Slow Down Sagg/ Root Down (and Get It)-alternate.

Players:Jimmy Simth- organ; Steve Williamson- harmonica*; Arthur Adams- guitar; Wilton Felder- bass; Buck Clarke- conga, percussion; Paul Humphrey- drums.

Recorded: February 9, 1972, Bombay Bicycle Club, Los Angeles, CA.

Verve on the web:


Track Listing: 1. Sagg Shootin

Personnel: Jimmy Smith, organ; Steve Williams, harmonica (track 3); Arthur Adams, guitar; Wilton Felder, bass; Buck Clarke, congas, percussion; Paul Humphrey, drums

Title: Root Down | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Plodi" CD/LP/Track Review Plodi
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Mobiles Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Mobiles Vol. 1
by James Nadal
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Resting in a Fold of the Fog" CD/LP/Track Review Resting in a Fold of the Fog
by John Eyles
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "You / Me" CD/LP/Track Review You / Me
by John Eyles
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017