The Incredible Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith "Back At The Chicken Shack"He would have been 89 years old today. Jimmy Smith, one of the most important and influential organists ever, was all over the annual Downbeat Readers Poll in December 1962. Here’s what Ira Gitler wrote in the liner notes of this classic recording from April 25, 1960, the same session that also gave us Kenny Burrell’s landmark “Midnight Special” album with the same personnel:

“In the category designated as “Miscellaneous Instruments”, the man who pulled the most votes was Jimmy Smith. It was his first poll win and the first time any organist had won in the Downbeat poll. There are many people who feel that the organ deserves a category of its own.”

“Back At The Chicken Shack” features Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax, Kenny Burrell on guitar and Donald Bailey on drums. The title track is one of Smith’s compositions, a sexy blues that  has become one of Smith’s most popular songs. And as usual, Francis Wolff took care of the cover photo which is also now a classic. Here’s Ira Gitler again: “After driving around for a while, they found the chicken farm of one of Jimmy’s friends…The farm itself was colorful, with many varieties of roosters and hens, and the inevitable spotted dog. Jimmy sat down, his cap as relaxed on his head as he was on his rustic seat. Elsie, the dog, came right over to him to be petted, the rooster (name unknown) struck a pose, and Frank Wolff’s camera took care of the rest.”

Jimmy Smith died on February 8th, 2005.

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