Covering prime early recordings from 1956-1960 and one mid-'80s cut, Blue Note's The Best of Jimmy Smith offers up a fine introduction to the trailblazing jazz organist. Smith's Blue Note sessions not only introduced the world to the complex solo possibilities of the Hammond B3 organ, but simultaneously ushered in the soul-jazz era of the '60s, spawning a wealth of fine imitators in the process. Before delving into more commercial terrain on Verve in the late '60s, Smith cut a ton of jam-session dates for Blue Note, often with the help of hard bop luminaries like trumpeter Lee Morgan, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, tenor saxophonists Tina Brooks and Stanley Turrentine, and drummers Art Blakey and Donald Bailey. All are heard here on classic cuts like "The Sermon," "Back at the Chicken Shack," and "The Jumpin' Blues," with Smith regular Turrentine and a young Morgan availing themselves in especially fine form. For his part, Smith eats up the scenery on all the sides here, taking his solo to particularly impressive heights on a fleetly swinging rendition of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".
Jimmy Smith brought the Hammond organ into hard bop and jazz in the 1950s, and his piano-fast solo runs on the instrument have never been equaled. This warm set from Blue Note Records, the label where Smith built most of his impressive legacy, selects eight of his performances for the label, including a 20-minute (and ten second) version of "The Sermon," the bouncing "Back at the Chicken Shack," and a fun romp through "See See Rider," among other delights, making this a quick introduction to the peak creative era of this one-of-a-kind jazz artist's long career.
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.