Jimmy Smith at the Organ
“Listen – Jimmy Smith – Sag’ Shootin’ His Arrow – MP3″
I hope everyone has had an excellent week, and that Monday’s podcast added just the right amount of funk to your life.
I also hope that you’re ready for some slamming organ funk.
If you fall by here in the reg, you know I dig me some Hammond. If you do as well (and I know you do) then the name of Jimmy Smith looms large.
Though Smith wasn’t the first jazz organist, he is certainly the most important, taking the unwieldy wood and wire beast and infusing it with a serious helping of soul.
Interestingly enough, while Smith was an innovative jazz stylist, he was not among the forefront of R&B/soul/funk Hammond, lagging behind many of his contemporaries (and his followers) who took the organ in funky new directions through the 60s. This isn’t to say that he never got funky – which is why we’re here today – but rather that while so many other organists were creating hardcore funky 45s, Smith was in the studio with arrangers like Oliver Nelson making album after album for Verve, many of which weren’t terribly satisfying as jazz or soul. There were obvious exceptions – like the blistering ‘The Cat’ – but by and large the classic era of Hammond soul jazz saw Smith eclipsed by the likes of Brother Jack McDuff, Bill Doggett, Jimmy McGriff and Hank Marr.
Perhaps the greatest example of Smith breaking through with the funk is the 1972 ‘Root Down’ LP. If the title is familiar, it may be because the Beastie Boys took a sample from the LP and recycled the title. Recorded in 1972, with a band that included Wilton Felder of the Crusaders, and Paul Humphrey on drums, ‘Root Down’ is a every bit as loose-limbed and funky as his earlier catalog is restrained.
I was doing some e-digging a while back and was surprised to see today’s selection had been released as a 45. Naturally I grabbed it.
‘Sag’ Shootin’ His Arrow’ – dig the timely astrological reference – is one of the hotter cuts from ‘Root Down’ and what you get here, on the 45 is a drastically edited version (2:10 compared to the 7+ minutes on the LP) of the song, with Smith positively wailing over funky drums and some fast rhythm guitar. He veers wildly between fast funk and a jazzier approach, but the blending of the two is high speed and virtually seamless.
I hope you dig it and I’ll see you all on Monday.
PS As the events of the last few weeks have proven, the Republican candidates have decided to eschew all trace of human decency and are in the midst of dropping the bar of political discourse to all new levels.
Though the polls seem to be favoring Barack Obama, this is not the time for complacency. If you have not yet registered to vote, or think for some reason that your vote is not necessary, you still have time to get it together. My New Jersey homeboys and girls still have until early next week to register. Those of you in other states can follow this link to see if you still have time left.
This is – especially with the addition of neo-fascist, hyper-religious, drastically unqualified Governor of Alaska (the emptiest suit of all) to the ticket – probably the most important presidential election of our time. If you have any interest in derailing the right wing juggernaut, and have yet to sign up to do your duty as an American citizen, please take the time to do so now.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS.