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[Off The Record]
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Jimmy Smith
(Blue Thumb)

Fortunately, the ridiculous title of this disc doesn’t reflect the contents or the enduring, soulful genius of Jimmy Smith, who would be a household name like Charlie Parker or B.B. King if people could get with the Hammond B-3 organ the way they do a saxophone or guitar. Smith, now 72, is so funky, so right, that it’s almost a distraction to have guest vocalists B.B. King, Etta James, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal, and Dr. John (who also counters Smith on piano on one track) come on board. But their contributions, especially Mo’s “Over and Over” and Dr. John’s “Only in It for the Money,” are far more welcome than having Smith dip into some of the ephemeral pop material he has taken on over the years. His bottomless bag of bop runs and blues lines and the whisper-to-a-roar dynamics of the B-3 make for irresistible grooves on “C.C. Rider” and “Eight Bars for Rita.” His main foil here is Russell Malone, who first played with him in the late 1980s and who is among those guitarists (Grant Green and Wes Montgomery would be others) who have rarely sounded better than when they are chasing Jimmy Smith.

(Jimmy Smith plays the House of Blues on Friday and Saturday February 16 and 17. Call 497-2229.)



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