There is nothing you can write about the legendary organist Jimmy Smith (1928 - 2005) that hasn’t already been stated. His legendary recordings for Blue Note Records, beginning in 1956, not only firmly established him as the preeminent jazz organist of his and succeeding generations, but also established the organ as an instrument of importance and artfulness within jazz. His work is characterized by a passion of unending fire and high musical integrity. Even though he left Blue Note in 1963, before returning back for selected dates in the 1980s and 90s, his work for other labels, such as Verve and Elektra, are also noted by his incredible musicianship and obsessively exciting drive.
Collected here are some of the cuts, it’s impossible to say "better cuts" because everything Smith recorded has its own musical validity, from his Milestone Records sessions between 1981 and 1993. Highlights of these highlights include a soulfully swinging "’Round The Corner" from 1993’s Sum Serious Blues. With an expanded ensemble of one trumpet, two trombones, three saxophones, guitar, bass and drums, the mini big band sound creates a swirling elaboration of Smith’s melody from which Smith launches one of his hippest solos ever. His soulful lines and tender counterlines are rife with succulent turns of wit that could only have been produced by this master.
For those looking for a cut where Smith burns look no further than "Here Comes C.T." from 1989’s Prime Time. Riding on top and ahead of the beat, Smith literally pulls and drags Michael Baker’s drumming and Andy Simpkins’ bass playing into explosive territory with "no prisoners" being the modus operandi. By setting the standard so high so early it’s great to listen to guitarist Phil Upchurch and tenor saxophonist Curtis Peagler try to match the early intensity. They do, and the journey is so much fun you’ll find yourself listening to the cut over and over and over.
The rest of the disc is just like these two tunes - a sharp collection of soul, blues and red-hot rocking. For those not familiar with Smith’s later work, most know him only from his 1960s Blue Note work ala House Party and The Sermon, then this collection is a must have. You will thank yourself over and over and over.