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  R. I. P. Jimmy Smith

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Author Topic:   R. I. P. Jimmy Smith
Russ Wever

From: San Diego, California

posted 08 February 2005 11:46 PM     profile     
Jimmy Smith, jazz organist credited with 'starting it all' with the Hammond B3, found dead in bed at his Phoenix, AZ home Feb 8th. He was 79 years old.
David L. Donald

From: Koh Samui Island, Thailand

posted 09 February 2005 12:46 AM     profile     
Oh man, those pedals just will never be kicked the same again...
Jack Stoner

From: Inverness, Florida

posted 09 February 2005 03:50 AM     profile     
Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff were my two favorite jazz organists. Unfortunately a lot of us are no longer "teenagers" and time catches up with us.

(That's the reason I've stayed 39 for so long).

Bill Hatcher

From: Atlanta Ga. USA

posted 09 February 2005 05:51 AM     profile     
My good friend Jimmy Jackson here in Atlanta has played drums with Smith for over 20 years. He gave me a recent live recording they made in Japan. Man, Jimmy Smith was burning till the end. Die in your sleep, sad but not a bad exit at all. What a player, what a legacy!! He will be missed.

Jackson told me something that surprised me very much. In all his years of sitting behind a B3 organ, the original Hammond company never gave Jimmy Smith an endorsement deal. Lawrence Hammond should have been ashamed of that. Jimmy Smith was responsible for selling SO many Hammond organs.

One good thing that will come of this possibly is there will be some nice compilations of his work, which still sounds so funky even today.

A master has left us.

Webb Kline

From: Bloomsburg, PA

posted 09 February 2005 06:13 AM     profile     
Wow, that just took the wind out of me. Jimmy has left a bigger mark on the influence of keyboard players than perhaps anyone. It is nearly impossible to play the instrument without traces of his influence. May God rest his soul.

As far as Laurens Hammond is concerned; that isn't surpising when you consider that he would never even endorse Don Leslie's great invention. If it weren't for that, Laurens' organ would have never even survived WWII.

[This message was edited by Webb Kline on 09 February 2005 at 06:14 AM.]

Michael Johnstone

From: Sylmar,Ca. USA

posted 09 February 2005 07:23 AM     profile     
Time to break out the Jimmy/Wes LP "The Dynamic Duo" and give it a spin.
Glenn Suchan

From: Austin, Texas

posted 09 February 2005 07:31 AM     profile     
Time to relisten to some of my favorite Jimmy Smith songs: "Midnight Special", "The Sermon" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag". "Think I'll relisten to the CD "Incredible" with Joey DiFrancesco and Jimmy Smith. Live recording with Joey's band. Incredible....

The bad news keeps on comin' ....

Keep on pickin'!

Jim Smith

From: Plano, TX, USA

posted 09 February 2005 07:35 AM     profile     
Whew, what a way to get woken up! Seriously, my mom used to buy Jimmy's records for me. Although no one ever mistook me for him, maybe that's why I love playing B3 sounds on my steel. RIP Jimmy.
Andy Greatrix

From: Edmonton Alberta

posted 09 February 2005 07:59 AM     profile     
My favourite Jimmy smith performance on record is a Henry Mancini record called "Walk On the Wild Side" with Kenny Burrel, Shelly Mann, and the Mancini orchestra. This is not the Lou Reed tune of the same name.
Jerry Overstreet

From: Louisville Ky

posted 09 February 2005 08:10 AM     profile     
I was just listening to Jimmy's rousing rendition of "Misty" earlier this week. What a stylist... as well as being a pioneer.

[...on second thought, I have lots of Hammond recorded from various sources and I believe the one I have of the aforementioned Misty is by Richard Holmes. I'm sure I have Trouble in Mind as well as many other Smith tunes, some with Kenny Burrell and Wes.] I'll ceraintly be looking for the recent releases mentioned here.

[This message was edited by Jerry Overstreet on 09 February 2005 at 10:34 AM.]

[This message was edited by Jerry Overstreet on 09 February 2005 at 11:44 AM.]

Bill Hatcher

From: Atlanta Ga. USA

posted 09 February 2005 08:22 AM     profile     
There is a brand new studio recording of Jimmy Smith and Joey D. that is due out this month. Smith was 79 when he recorded it and D. was 34. If you translate that into years of experience,sweat,musicianship etc. Smith was about 1347 and D. was still 34. ;-)
Jim Peters

From: St. Louis, Missouri, USA

posted 09 February 2005 10:14 AM     profile     
Got to meet JS and his band in St. Louis a few years back. Great guy and player,Burrel and Jackson were fabulous! Jimmy Smith played 10 notes and walked off the stage! He said it sounded bad. Come to find out, the mike was turnd off on the top rotor of the Leslie. The sound crew fixed that, Jimmy went up and played a great blistering set. JimP
Smiley Roberts

From: Hendersonville,Tn. 37075

posted 09 February 2005 10:48 AM     profile     
WOW!! '05 is not starting out as a wonderful year for the entertainment industry,is it??

As much as I love "B-3" music,I only have one album by J.S. "The Amazing Jimmy Smith Trio,Live At The Village Gate".(Metro M-521)
I bought it 1/10/67,for $1.37.
Sure am sorry to hear this.


  ~ ~
It don't mean a thang,
mm if it ain't got that twang.

Jerry Gleason

From: Eugene, Oregon

posted 09 February 2005 11:37 AM     profile     
Man, what a shame. I have at least a dozen of those old Blue Note records of Jimmy. My favorite is still the original recording of "Back at the Chicken Shack". This blues is often covered by bar bands, but none of them really seem to get it. Jimmy and co. played this with such a light, subtle, but powerful groove, that you can almost go into a trance listening to it.

Another great one gone. Not many left to carry on that style.

chas smith

From: Encino, CA, USA

posted 09 February 2005 11:46 AM     profile     
I had a B3 at the end of the '60s and I wanted to play like him, need I say more... Dying in your sleep is a good "exit". Another sad day for the rest of us.
Chris Brooks

From: Providence, Rhode Island

posted 09 February 2005 11:57 AM     profile     
What a loss. He "wrote the book" on modern Hammond playing, didn't he? Love his pairing with Wes.

I worked opposite Jimmy's trio for 2 weeks in Denver in the mid-70s. He was quite a character. A pilot, too, I believe . . . He was tickled to find out I was a Sagittarius, too--whatever that means.

May he rest in peace. What a legacy.


Craig Stock

From: Westfield, NJ USA

posted 09 February 2005 03:02 PM     profile     
I saw Jimmy Smith two years ago at the local Jazz/Blues place, he was great and really cooked. Saw Jimmy McGriff a few years before and it was funny, they had to walk him up the ramp to the stage (it was an outdoor Jazz Fest) and sit him down at the bench, but once he started playing, he was like a young kid again. Real nice guy too, Bernard Purdy was in the band along with 'Fathead' Newman. Craig
Geoff Brown

From: Nashvegas

posted 09 February 2005 04:12 PM     profile     
Oh my, I had not heard this till now. I don't know what else to add to what has already been said. Jimmy was the first organ player to really catch my ear. Turned me onto the whole organ-trio jazz thing. Amazing chops. We should be grateful for all the great music he's left behind for us. Does anyone have a link to an obit?
Rest easy, Jimmy Smith.
Geoff Brown

From: Nashvegas

posted 09 February 2005 04:16 PM     profile     
Here is an article quoted from *Hammond Times* Volume 26 Number 2
(July-August 1964) Written by Jimmy Smith entitled "Incredible!"

My first Hammond Organ was bought ten years ago. I was playing piano in
small bands around Philadelphia and was so impressed with the incredible
number and variety of sounds you can get with the Hammond that I couldn't
rest until I had my own.

I never did take lessons, just taught myself. First, I learned about the
drawbars and what each one stood for. As time passed, I experimented trying
out all the different sounds. Next came the presets. I tried them out too
but I don't use them very much except when playing ballads or something
sweet and soft.

When it came to the foot pedals, I made a chart of them and put it on the
wall in front of me wo I wouldn't have to look down. My first method was
just using the toe. In the earlier days I was a tap dancer so the transition
to heel and toe playing was made without too much trouble. One thing I
learned was that you have to have a relaxed ankle. I would write out
different bass lines to try for different tempi in order to relax the ankle.
One useful learning technique was to put my favorite records on and then
play the bass line along with them to see if I could play the pedals without
looking down and only occasionally using my chart on the wall. This worked
out fine.

When you are properly co-ordinated, you get an even flow in the bass. Most
often, organists are uneven in their playing of the pedals, heavy here and
light there.

Soon I was putting hands and feet together and achieving co-ordination.

My first job with the organ was at a Philadelphia supper club, playing a duo
with drums. It was here I began further experimentation with different
drawbar settings and using different effects and dynamics. It was before
these audiences that the Jimmy Smith sound evolved.

People always ask me about this sound. This probably is best explained in
my approach to the organ. While others think of the organ as a full
orchestra, I think of it as a horn. I've always been an admirer of Charlie
Parker. . .and I try to sound like him. I wanted that single-line sound like
a trumpet, a tenor or an alto saxophone.

Shortly afterward, I recorded for Blue Note and my records began to get
popular. After seven years with Blue Note (and twenty-one LP's later) I
moved to MGM records. My first big record for them was "Walk on the Wild
Side," from the movie of the same name. On this record I used a sole setting
of 88 8000 001 on the upper manual on B preset, vibrato off, and percussion

After much harassment from fellow organists, fans, and musicians it is my
intention to publish an organ book. This book will show musically exactly
what I find very difficult to explain editorially.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to play the better type of music, even
classics. I haven't done anything like that, but I'm going to. I'm going to
scare a lot of people with the incredible number of tones on the Hammond
Organ before I die.

Copyright 1964, Hammond Organ Company, Chicago, Illinois

Tony Prior

From: Charlotte NC

posted 09 February 2005 04:58 PM     profile     
I used to hang with a friend ( Guitar player) in the early 70's who was really a huge Jimmy Smith fan..and from that I also became a fan. At the time I played Bass in a sort of ..well not really sure what kind of Pop/Rock....whatever it was.. ..they played Misty at Jimmy Smith meter .I learned the full walking Bass line from Jimmy Smiths foot work..the guy was intense..clearly an inovator ...

I wish I had made the trips to NYC to see him but I never did...

Sorry to hear this sad news..

I will keep his family in my prayers..


[This message was edited by Tony Prior on 09 February 2005 at 04:59 PM.]

Andy Volk

From: Boston, MA

posted 09 February 2005 05:44 PM     profile     
There are a handful of great jazz organists but Jimmy was the best of them all and he sustained it for so many years. My favorite Smith albums are Back At the Chicken Shack, Crazy Baby, and Off the Top (with George Benson). Did he originate the old trick of using a matchbook to sustain a note by jamming the keys thus leaving both hands free to play chords and lines against that pedal point note? For younger players, it's hard to top Joey DeFrancesco. One of my lifetime best for live gigs I caught was seeing joey and Jack McDuff square off on dueling B-3s.
Rick Schmidt

From: Carlsbad, CA. USA

posted 10 February 2005 01:06 AM     profile     
I cant think of one player who influenced me more.

His bass playing inspired my bass playing. I love the warm, fuzzy, BASS sound he gets. I wish more BASS players played like that! I really like BASS on a bass...not the trebley, popping stuff that IS the sound of (ugh) smooth jazz it seems.

His chords and wild flurries have always given me something to shoot for on pedal steel...not that I've ever actually achieved it, but it was a big part of my steel vision from the very beginning.

Then there was his guitar players...Kenny and Wes pretty much do it for me as far as jazz guitar goes. The natural fit between an L5 and a B3 was one of the happiest accidents of 20th century music. It was those 2 guys that first got me seriously into studying guitar.

I heard that Jimmy started out as a piano tuner besides being a pianist. Club owners would often let their pianos get way out because they new if they could just wait a couple weeks until Jimmy had a booking at their club, they could get it tuned for free.

I wonder how his piano tuners ear first related to the temperament of one of the first electronic "synthesizers"? (the B3)

God bless Jimmy Smith....A true original!

p.s. It's 1AM at the Schmidthaus. Just got home from a lame country gig and "Organ Grinder Swing" is probably waking up the neighbors as I type.

CrowBear Schmitt

From: Ariege, - PairO'knees, - France

posted 10 February 2005 06:53 AM     profile     
Jimmy Smith was Da Man !
along w: Wes, he made me hear somethin' i never heard before
from that day on i was hooked, lined & sinkered
B3 + PSG are tops in my book
i caught Jimmy w: Phil Upchurch when he played in Andorra a few years back
Cookin' & a Smokin'
bet the Lord's happy to have Jimmy Smith up there w: him & the rest of the band
Down here his Musik will live on
Michael Barone

From: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 10 February 2005 05:42 PM     profile     
Jimmy Smith established a tone that was imitated by every synthesizer manufacturer around, years after the B-3 was "replaced". Everyone just had to have the "Smith sound", drawbars 888000000.. with 3rd harmonic percussion, leslie brake. Not too hard to program on a synth, but try to make it sound like a B-3, good luck. Synths just couldn't do a tone generator without phase problems, or folding harmonics, natural distortion, etc. Nothing like a B-3. Nothing like the Smith sound. Everyone tried at every angle to imitate it.

I can recall an album "Jimmy Smith Plays the Standards", which I picked up from a supermarket discount rack about 1968 (nobody wanted it) for $2.00. It was the only Smith album I've found where he frequently used fast leslie with full organ drawbars and block chording. Amazing chord progressions. Throughout his career, you could always feel the emotion in his phrases and mechanical control.

He has given us so much. May God bless him.

Rick McDuffie

From: Smithfield, North Carolina, USA

posted 10 February 2005 06:34 PM     profile     
It's encouraging that so many guys who love PSG also love Jimmy Smith and the B3.

JS made a great contribution to the Hammond and to jazz. We are indebted to him.

Now I have a new list of albums I need to score.

Craig Stock

From: Westfield, NJ USA

posted 11 February 2005 08:30 AM     profile     
Luckily for us in the NY Metro area, there are still plenty of guys playing the B3, Newark was the Spot years back, and there has been a resurgence lately of many new players.

I got a good sampler album a few years back from WBGO-Newark,the local Jazz station, as a premium during one of their fund raisers. It is called 'Have you Had your Vitamin B-3 Today?', it features Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, John Patton, Freddie Roach, Shirley Scott, J.S., Leon Spenser and Carl Wilson, it is on
Label M#495725. Craig

Geoff Brown

From: Nashvegas

posted 11 February 2005 07:05 PM     profile     
One of the many things I miss about living in NYC is listening to WBGO.

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