Regarded by his peers and critics alike as the king of the Hammond organ. His recordings are extensive, with over 30 albums for Blue Note and 20 for Verve, and some recent Milestone recordings. The Sermon, Back At The Chicken Shack and his collaborations with Wes Montgomery are often considered his best albums. He recorded in trios/quartets/quintets, sometimes sharing the billing with guitarists and saxophonists (Stanley Turrentine). He also recorded with big bands (most Verve releases), unfortunately.
After his first four albums, A New Sound-A New Star & The Champ and two live, he recorded five (count 'em: 5) albums in three days in five different ensembles including Donald Byrd, Lou Donaldson, Art Blakey and Kenny Burrell. The albums A Date with Jimmy Smith Vols. 1 & 2, Jimmy Smith At The Organ Vols. 1 & 2, and The Sounds of Jimmy Smith are collected on a 3-disc chronological compilation from Mosaic The Complete February 1957 Jimmy Smith Blue Note Sessions. Home Cookin', recently available from Japan, is more late 50's recordings with his faithful and esteemed guitar partner Burrell, who's own Midnight Blue with Stanley Turrentine is a Blues-drenched Jazz guitar classic.
Smith made his share of funky grooves. Suggestions are "Can't Get Enough" (from his Paid In Full album on his Mojo label, NA on CD) which can be found on the compilation of the same name from the Luv N' Haight label ("The Finest In Funk Since 1990", a tongue-in-cheek take-off of Blue Note's "The Finest In Jazz Since 1939", both of which are two of my favorite labels). Another classic is "Pipeline" (album?) which is on the Best Of compilation from Curb (not the best!).
"Smith revolutionized jazz organ, turning what was, for the most part, a roller-rink instrument into one of the most incisive, dynamic jazz instruments of its time. His work in the late 50s defined what today remains the standard approach to the instrument. In essence, he made the Hammond organ perform the work of an entire Jazz trio: using the left hand for chordal accompaniment, right hand for lead, and both feet to produce a walking bass line." (Bob Porter AMG)
He was awarded Downbeat's Top Jazz Organist for the first of many times in 1964, the same year he won a Grammy for his album The Cat. This album, from his Verve years, is characterized by orchestral accompaniments which are some of the unfunkiest things I have ever heard. The amazing thing is that if you just listen to the organ and shut out the big band, it's still funky.
He's still touring regularly, and one of his recent concerts in Tokyo was released by Blue Note, The Master, with Kenny Burrell on guitar and Jimmie Smith on drums. January '94's Downbeat magazine has a feature article "B-3 Jammin' with Jimmy Smith" with some interesting insights: Groove and McGriff used to be pupils of Smith's and would hide secrets from each other... According to Smith, they would wake him up in the morning. Smith himself would get to Bud Powell's home before he got up so he could watch him practice. Powell welcomed him until Jimmy played him "Un Poco Loco"! Smith even played a Charlie Parker gig one night (of many it seems) Powell was late.
Jimmy Smith's newest recordings on Verve, Damn! and Angel Eyes, matched him with today's "hot" young Jazz players: Roy Hargrove, tp; Nicholas Payton, tp; Mark Whitfield, g; Christian McBride, b.
(Thornel Schwatrz/D.Bailey) A New Sound-A New Star Vol.1 1956 (Thornel Schwatrz/D.Bailey) A New Sound-A New Star Vol.2 1956 (Champ) (T.Schwatrz/D.Bailey) At Club Baby Grand Vol.1 1956 (T.Schwatrz/D.Bailey) At Club Baby Grand Vol.2 1956 (D.Byrd/L.Donaldson/H.Mobley) A Date w/ J.S. Vol. 1 1957 (D.Byrd/L.Donaldson/A.Blakey) A Date w/ J.S. Vol. 2 1957 (L.Donaldson/E.McFadden) Jimmy Smith At The Organ Vol. 1 1957 (K.Burrell/A.Blakey) Jimmy Smith At The Organ Vol. 2 1957 (E.McFadden/D.Bailey) The Sounds of Jimmy Smith 1957 Confirmation 1957 Groovin' at Small's Vol. 1 1957 Groovin' at Small's Vol. 2 1957 Special Guests 1957 (K.Burrell/Philly Joe Jones) Softly As A Summer Breeze 1957 (E.McFadden/D.Bailey) Plays Pretty Just for You 1957 (L.Morgan/G.Coleman/A.Blakey) House Party 1957-8 (L.Donaldson/K.Burrell) The Sermon 1957-8 Cool Blues 1958 On the Sunny Side 1958 (K.Burrell/D.Bailey/P.France) Home Cookin' 1958-9 (I.Quebec/J.McLean/Q.Warren) Open House 1960 (I.Quebec/J.McLean/Q.Warren) Plain Talk 1960 (S.Turrentine/K.Burrell) Back At The Chicken Shack 1960 (S.Turrentine/K.Burrell) Midnight Special 1960 (Quentin Warren/D.Bailey) Crazy! Baby 1960 (Quentin Warren/D.Bailey) Plays Fats Waller 1962 (L.Donaldson/Q.Warren) Rockin' the Boat 1963 (S.Turrentine/Q.Warren) Prayer Meetin' 1963 Bucket! 1963 (Grant Green) I'm Movin On 1963 (Q.Warren/D. Bailey/Orch.) Bashin' 1962 Verve Any Number Can Win 1963 Verve Blue Bash 1963 Verve Hobo Flats 1963 Verve Live at the Village Gate 1963 Metro Plays the Blues 1963 PolyGram (Orchestra) Christmas Cookin' 1964 Verve (K.Burrell/G.Tate/Orch.) The Cat 1964 Verve Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1964 Verve (Q.Warren/B.Hart) Salle Pleyel (Live) 1965 Trema/RTE In Hamburg Live 1965 Metro Live in Concert / Paris 1965 Metro (K.Burrell/Grady Tate) Organ Grinder's Swing 1965 Verve Got My Mojo Workin' 1965 Verve Monster 1965 Verve Hootchie Coochie Man 1966 Verve Peter and the Wolf 1966 Verve (Wes Montgomery/Orch.) The Dynamic Duo 1966 Verve (W.Montgomery/Orch.) Further Adventures of J. & Wes 1966 Verve Respect 1967 Verve The Boss 1968 Verve Livin' It Up 1968 Verve Stay Loose 1968 Verve Groove Drops 1969 Verve In A Plain Brown Wrapper 1971 Verve Bluesmith 1972 Verve Root Down - Live 1972 Verve I'm Gonna Git Myself Together 1973 Verve Portuguese Soul 1973 Verve At the Lowry Organ 1973 Decca Other Side of Jimmy Smith 1973 MGM Blacksmith 1974 Pride Paid in Full 1974 Mojo (Herbie Hancock/Lenny White) Sit on It! 1976 Mercury (Orchestra) The Cat Strikes Again 1980 Laserlight Mr. Jim 1980 Manhattan (S.Turrentine/G.Benson) Off the Top 1982 Elektra Keep on Comin' 1983 Elektra (S.Turrentine/K.Burrell) Go For Watcha Know 1986 Blue Note Prime Time 1989 Milestone (S.Turrentine/K.Burrell) Fourmost (Live) 1990 Milestone (Kenny Burrell/Jimmie Smith) The Master (Live) 1993 Blue Note (Kenny Burrell/Jimmie Smith) The Master II (Live) 1993 Somethin' Else Sum Serious Blues 1993 Milestone (R.Hargrove/M.Whitfield) Damn! 1995 Verve (R.Hargrove/M.Whitfield) Angel Eyes 1996 Verve Turrentine, Stanley J.Smith(G.Benson/L.McCann) Straight Ahead 1984 Blue Note White, Lenny Larry Young/Jimmy Smith (L.Coryell/Al DiMeola/Weldon Irvine/Hubert Laws) Venusian Summer 1975 Emperor Ingram, James Jimmy Smith It's Your Night 1983 QWest Jackson, Michael Jimmy Smith Bad 1987 Epic/Sony