The Master R.I.P.
February 9, 2005 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Jimmy Smith (wikipedia) passed away last night. [ mi ]
posted by bluedaniel (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
News sources are yet to report this and I myself could not officially make an announcement (on npr) without confirmation at the time, but we knew it yesterday.

Jimmy was one angry dude, but one helluva a musician, and when the night grew late, and a drink or two poured, he really was the THE MASTER. RIP old friend, and thanks for getting my mojo working.
posted by bluedaniel at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2005


I read about this on Soul Sides this morning, and hoped it was a mistake. I'll go home and throw this on after work.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:05 AM on February 9, 2005

Guess I'll be listening to The Sermon tonight.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2005

Aw man. I've seen him play a few times in small clubs. He was the absolute king of the hammond organ and one of my favorites. RIP.
posted by mathowie at 11:08 AM on February 9, 2005

I only saw Jimmy once (in 2001), but that one show is etched forever in my memory. He could really groove, even in his old age. He will missed.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2005

Who will play the Hammond B-3 now? Thanks Mr. Smith, and goodbye...
posted by mania at 11:11 AM on February 9, 2005

Oh. My. God. I just saw him at the Iridium when I was in NYC last month. It was the most unbeleivable live jazz performance I've seen (im including his killer band too) and he rocked. He had to be helped onto the stage, and helped to sit, but his hands knew what they were doing and he sounded as young and vibrant as he did 30-odd years ago.

Im so grateful I got a chance to see him before he passed on. He's a favorite of mine and I miss him already.
posted by Dantien at 11:14 AM on February 9, 2005

posted by jonmc at 11:15 AM on February 9, 2005

Weird. I was playing a gig just last night on organ and was thinking about him.

Shoulda played "Chicken Shack."


Who will play the Hammond B-3 now?

Perhaps the yoke falls upon Joey Defrancesco.
posted by sourwookie at 11:15 AM on February 9, 2005

He was to perform at Yoshi's (in Oakland) next week with Joey DeFrancesco, who will now perform solo in tribute to Jimmy.
posted by bluedaniel at 11:15 AM on February 9, 2005

Who will play the Hammond B-3 now?

There's certainly no shortage of fine B3 players. Two for example:

Barbara Dennerlein

Joey DeFrancesco
posted by milnak at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2005

A short bio on the deceased in the FPP writeup would have been helpful for those of us who only vaguely recognized the name.
posted by mischief at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2005

posted by fungible at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2005

The FPP links are the bios. No obituary has been set quite yet, hence links to the bios at Verve and Blue Note for now.
posted by bluedaniel at 11:21 AM on February 9, 2005

Here's a brief VH-1 newslink
posted by ch3ch2oh at 11:24 AM on February 9, 2005

I remember reading that Alfred Lion, founder of Blue Note Records, once seriously considered giving up everything and just following Jimmy Smith around so as not to miss a single note he played.

In this interview Jimmy said this about his work with Lion:

"I was his lover. Did you hear what I said? I was his lover. Him and Frank, we were lovers. You see, Fred, we got married. It was a marriage. We had a marriage and I am sorry that he died. My first recording, a guy came down to Philadelphia and heard me play and he introduced me to Alfred Lion. I did my first recording. It was called The Champ. From then on, we just went ahead with The Sermon, Midnight Special, and all that shit."
posted by wsg at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2005


You have to respect a musician whose very name became a synonym for a style and feel of music.
posted by mmahaffie at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2005

posted by Eamon at 11:27 AM on February 9, 2005

posted by muckster at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2005

I added a wikipedia page to the post, just to help folks that didn't know who he was.
posted by mathowie at 11:31 AM on February 9, 2005

posted by Smart Dalek at 11:43 AM on February 9, 2005

Playing those bass lines with the feet is quite a feat. I know; I've tried and failed. Jimmy was indeed a master.
posted by kozad at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2005

I'm listening to him now. Thanks, Jimmy, for all the good tunes.
posted by alms at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2005

Sad news. He was one of the ones I missed, somehow, never saw him even though he was my second musical favorite of all, before I moved on to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Monk, and many others. I still have Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Organ Grinder Swing, The Cat, and a half-dozen earlier albums bought starting back in the mid-60's.

It's been a long time since those days, when Smith so impressed everyone that Down Beat stuck an organ category in their annual poll starting in 1964, and he walked away with the win year after year by astounding margins of victory. The second side of Who's Afraid . . . starts off with a swinging John Brown's Body— at least Jimmy, from what Dantien says, went out grooving instead of a-mouldering.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:04 PM on February 9, 2005

My dad had the LP of "Got My Mojo Workin'." When I was a kid, I'd look at the cover and wonder what was so incredible about him, until I finally played the damn thing and found out why.

Thanks, Jimmy. Good night.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:11 PM on February 9, 2005

for years I'd hear things on the jazz station and wonder who it was, until finally one day they said ". . . aaand of course that was Jimmy Smith the king of the B-3" and I ran out and got Prayer Meetin'.

Thank you sir.
posted by petebest at 12:20 PM on February 9, 2005

"Jimmy Smith is my man, I want to give him a pound."
posted by norm at 12:25 PM on February 9, 2005

Here's more of an Ask question, but hopefully appropriate considering the subject of the post: The only Jimmy Smith album I currently have is Back at the Chicken Shack. What other must-haves do you all suggest?
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:32 PM on February 9, 2005

Totally sucks. Thankfully he left us with a massive catalog of compositions and recordings to explore.
posted by anathema at 12:35 PM on February 9, 2005

With Elvin Jones dying last year, there's one hell of a Jazz band in Heaven (or Hell, factoring in the average 60's jazz musician's lifestyle) right now.
posted by WC_Helmets at 12:52 PM on February 9, 2005

I only just discovered Jimmy Smith recently. Just the kind of music I've always wanted to hear. I knew it was out there but wasn't sure who made it. I recommend his collabarations with guitarist Wes Montgomery, Dynamic Duo and Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes. The latter is excellent, the former I'm still waiting to have delivered.
posted by mokey at 1:22 PM on February 9, 2005

Whether they know it or not, most people heard Jimmy Smith through a sample of his music in the Beastie Boy's track "Root Down" from their Ill Communications album. Smith's original album Root Down and its title track "Root Down (and get it)" are well worth listening to. Find it here.
posted by turbo_simian at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2005

I got play on stage with him back in 1989 and it was amazing to feel the energy coming out of that man. He elevated the room and the stage. It was like playing in another dimension. I was just a hack guitar player who lucked out but he was gracious as hell.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:42 PM on February 9, 2005

Errg... That is, find it here.
posted by turbo_simian at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2005

One of my earliest memories was my dad playing this as music in the background at parties. I vividly remembered the cover art. Now my friends are into him. He was truly a genius. Sad.
posted by bdave at 3:12 PM on February 9, 2005

Jimmy Smits is dead?
posted by kcds at 3:39 PM on February 9, 2005

When I got married 33 years ago, the bedroom furniture was a mattress on the floor, a Hammond B-3 and a Leslie cabinet. Nothing sounds like a B-3 cranking through that old scratchy internal tube amp while the rotors on the Leslie spin up to speed. Nothing.

And when I think of that sound, I think of Jimmy Smith.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2005

Probably twenty years ago, I found a cassette tape in the lost and found box of a place I used to work at. I was bored, so I put the tape on to see what it was. What it was a 90 minutes of music that was absolutely mind-expanding to a young metal head such as I was. There was no label on the tape and the only indication of the musician was a voice at the end of one of the songs saying, "That was Jimmy Smith, ladies and gentlemen." RIP
posted by beetsuits at 3:57 PM on February 9, 2005

Recommendations: The Sermon, featuring Lee Morgan, Tina Brooks, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Burrell, Curtis Fuller and Art Blakey. It's widely regarded as the best of his early lps and you really can't do better than an All-Star set of players.

but then again, I've always been a little more partial to the already dead Larry Young (b.1948-d.1978)
posted by vhsiv at 5:45 PM on February 9, 2005

After I heard this news I put a disc in and my son and I danced around to Jimmy Smith for a while.
posted by Songdog at 7:01 PM on February 9, 2005

Jimmy made music that made me happy to be alive. Damn.

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best music for a summer afternoon. Rest in peace, funky brother.
posted by Freen at 7:32 PM on February 9, 2005

Wow. What a legend. All of those old Jimmy and Wes recordings tore me off of the Led Zeppelin/Hendrix teat and made me REALLY want to learn how to play guitar. I was very sad when Miles and Dizzy passed; they represented the passing of an era that I never beonged to, but at least I was privileged enough to see them play live. Jimmy Smith, I will never have the honor. RIP, Jimmy, you ruled.
posted by psmealey at 7:47 PM on February 9, 2005

posted by madamjujujive at 7:48 PM on February 9, 2005

I've seen Jimmy a few times. He always put on a great show, but he could be a real prick. The first time I saw him, back in 98 or so, he was playing at an outdoor jazz festival with some local musicians (Austin, TX btw), and after the show, I overheard the drummer (who was black) comforting the guitar player (who was white) because Jimmy had apparently given him a ton of shit. Later, I saw Jimmy and I went up to him to see if I could get an autograph. I very politely said, "Excuse me, Mr. Smith?" and he said "NO! FUCK OFF!"

But, who cares? I saw him 2 or 3 more times after that. Dude was a monster, even if he did have a chip on his shoulder. That same weekend he played a gig at a local nightclub, with the same band. I ran into Jimmy Vaughn, who was just in awe of Smith. I also ran into Mike Judge, who I'd met briefly a few months before. I reminded him who I was and said, "I wouldn't have expected to see you here. I didn't know you liked jazz." He told me, "That's my Hammond that he's playing." I later found out that before Beavis and Butthead, Judge had been big in the Texas blues circuit as a drummer.
posted by papakwanz at 8:11 PM on February 9, 2005

Jimmy will be remembered this afternoon by NPR's Felix Contreras on All Things Considered, including excerpts from his last interview, at the IAJE conference in Long Beach last month.
posted by bluedaniel at 10:59 AM on February 10, 2005


By the way, SteveInMaine, if you like the excellent Back at the Chicken Shack, you may also like Midnight Special, which was recorded the same night.
posted by Vidiot at 1:29 AM on February 11, 2005

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