Jimmy Smith LIve at Catalina’s

Jimmy Smith Jimmy Smith
Live at Catalina’s
by Paula Edelstein

The chill in the night air didn’t stop devoted fans of the great organ master, Jimmy Smith from making the trek to Catalina’s Bar and Grill to honor his presence and to thank him for his immeasurable contributions to the soul jazz genre. From dot com millionaires, to Hollywood movie moguls and major box office draws, the packed house was treated to an extraordinary show by the legendary Hammond B-3 organist who makes his Blue Thumb Records debut with a new CD entitled DOT COM BLUES in January 2001. This new CD features special guests B.B. King, Etta James, Dr. John, Taj Mahal and Keb Mo, but tonight, it was the great Jimmy Smith that pulled out all the stops on his Hammond B-3 organ with Phil Upchurch on guitar, Harvey Mason on drums and Ricky Woodard on saxophone.

Their soul jazz style met an enthusiastic audience that appreciated the 90s’ resurgence of the Hammond B-3 organ movement that Jimmy Smith and other jazz organists such as Bill Doggett, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Shirley Scott, Charles “The Burner” Earland and Brother Jack McDuff launched in the 50s. His unabashed playing caused a sensation on “8 Counts For Rita” and watching him stretch out on “Mood Indigo” was a sight to behold. Rubbing shoulders with gospel, soul, jazz, funk and the blues, Smith coalesced his audience into the center of the songs and his predominate themes – the blues.

The band spotlighted their great talents with special medleys from Phil Upchurch that included “My Funny Valentine” and a fiery drum solo by Harvey Mason that all but needed a fire extinguisher as he burned up the spotlight! Ricky Woodard’s melodic sax work provided excellent support for the foot pedal work by the master himself as Smith exploited the Hammond’s full range of wails, buzzes, groans, shouts, honks and screams! The show, complete with an extended version of “Dot Com Blues” provided the anticipated improvised marathon Smith is known for on his great recordings and essentially, the audience reached the same conclusion it had all the while. That Jimmy Smith is awesome and works the Hammond B-3 through unknown territory that others still need a roadmap for!

Jimmy Smith is a living legend and at age 72 he shows no signs of letting up. He celebrated another birthday on December 8th, and so here’s a very special Happy Birthday to you from the dot.com generation! Thank you for your new Blue Thumb release DOT COM BLUES. No one does it better!

For a good time, give a listen to these other great Jimmy Smith hits: “The Champ,” “Back At The Chicken Shack,” and “The Sermon.” Keep in touch with the great Jimmy Smith at www.vervemusicgroup.com

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