Extending the good vibes created out of their first pairing on the live recording Incredible!, organists Joey Defrancesco and Jimmy Smith get down to business on Legacy. The two stellar and funky musicians have a great musical rapport and seem to really enjoy playing together. Fans of Incredible! will most likely find much to enjoy here. The album has a heavy Latin sound with percussionists Ramon Banda and Jose "Joey" de Leon supplying additional timbales and conga rhythms respectively. Also joining in this time around is special guest tenor saxophonist James Moody, who adds his fiery bop chops to "Jones'n for Elvin." Backing Defrancesco and Smith here are bassist Tony Banda, guitarist Paul Bollenback, and drummer Steve Ferrone.
Jimmy Smith wasn't the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did; Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and '60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith's example.
Jimmy Smith wasn't the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did; Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and '60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith's example. James Oscar Smith was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on December 8, 1928 (some sources cite his birth year as 1925). Smith's father was a musician and entertainer, and young Jimmy joined his song-and-dance act when he was six years old.
The tracks that make up Straight Life had been sitting in the Blue Note vaults since they were recorded on June 22, 1961, representing the only recorded output that year by Jimmy Smith and his trio of the era, which included guitarist Quentin Warren and drummer Donald Bailey. Somehow these ten songs got lost in the shuffle between the 1960 Blue Note date Crazy! Baby and Smith's leap into the national spotlight with his first Verve release, Bashin', in 1962. The trio swings along on six standards and three originals "Straight Life," "Jimmy's Blues," and two versions of "Minor Fare." Although not in the same league as Midnight Special or Prayer Meetin', it's great to hear this long lost hard bop session from the master of the Hammond B-3.
Of all of organist Jimmy Smith's big-band albums recorded for Verve, this is one of the most imaginative ones. Oliver Nelson arranged a variety of themes from Prokofiev's Peter & the Wolf into a swinging suite featuring the great organist Jimmy Smith. Although there is no verbal narrative on this LP, Nelson's liner notes tell the story (which can actually be followed through the music) and Smith pays respect to the original melodies while making strong statements of his own. A classic of its kind.
Smith influenced many other jazz organists, as well as rock keyboardists like avowed Smith fan Keith Emerson. More recently, Smith influenced bands such as the Beastie Boys, who sampled the bassline from "Root Down (and Get It)" from Root Down—and saluted Smith in the lyrics—for their own hit "Root Down," Medeski, Martin & Wood, and The Hayden-Eckert Ensemble. The Acid Jazz movement also reflects Smith's organ style. In 1999, Smith guested on two tracks of a live album, Incredible!- with his protégé, Joey DeFrancesco, a then 28-year-old organist. Smith and DeFrancesco later played together on the collaborative album Legacy, released in 2005 shortly after Smith's death.