Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jimmy Smith Dies

Jazz organ pioneer Jimmy Smith dies at 79

Reuters News Service


LOS ANGELES -- Organist Jimmy Smith, who helped change the sound of jazz by almost single-handedly introducing the electric riffs of the Hammond B-3 organ, has died at age 79 at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., his record label said Wednesday. More...

This Reuters article via The Houston Cronicle is as good a place to begin as any if you are not familiar with Jimmy Smith.

I first heard him on a jukebox while sitting in an all-night diner on the northwest side of Chicago. It was 1965. Although I had a dorm room to study in, I liked diners better. Coffee and cigarettes. Jukeboxes. I was trying to make the transition in my protected midwestern mind from the Dorsey brothers to jazz. It was Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Smith, and Lee Morgan. After that there was no going back...although I appreciate big band music to this day. But those jazz musicians liberated my mind. I could study to jazz...write to jazz. It fit with the big city that I found myself living in during the early 60's.

At about that time I heard Count Basie and his band live at the Club Laurel in Chicago. There was a $2 cover charge. The whole band was dressed in tan suits with white shirts and ties. The music was so powerful! Forty years later I still remember that night.

No comments: