When word came of the passing of colorful B-3 organ jazz pioneer Jimmy Smith, it was felt throughout the jazz community. Jimmy Smith took the B-3 organ and elevated it to a new artistic level with his revolutionary and innovative playing technique. Kenny Garrett will perform at the Jazz Kitchen on Friday night.
In 1956, his explosive recording of Dizzy Gillespie's bebop tune "The Champ," with Smith fiercely attacking right-hand solos, was reminiscent of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker's bebop lines. More importantly, his simultaneous driving bass lines with his left hand put the organ on an equal footing with other solo instruments in jazz.
Smith told me in an interview some years ago during one of his appearances in Indy that he had played bass early in his career and it helped his bass lines.
Indy's own highly acclaimed B-3 jazz organist, Melvin Rhyne, said this about Jimmy Smith's legacy: "I met him when I was working with Wes Montgomery and he stopped and sat in with the group. He sort of brought the organ out. Milt Buckner did a job but it didn't have the same kind of bass sound, he was playing the pedals. Jimmy Smith was using his left hand on that bottom keyboard and that made all the difference in the world. I think he just about influenced everybody."
The discography on Jimmy Smith is extensive, from his classic Bluenote Records trio recordings of burning soul jazz to his more commercial big band Verve Record outings, with his 1964 release of The Cat earning him a Grammy. In the last few years Smith physically lost some of his ability to use his phenomenal technique of running the foot pedals for bass lines and comping with his left hand while doing piano runs with his right.
One of Indy's premier bassists, Jonathan Woods, has been touring the world over the last three years with Smith, playing the organist's bass lines. The Smith influence on jazz organists is extensive, from Jimmy McGriff and Don Patterson to more contemporary players like Brian Auger and Joey DeFrancesco. Smith and DeFrancesco recently recorded together for an upcoming CD release and a tour together was set for them this summer in which Smith seems to be passing the B-3 legacy to DeFrancesco. Smith got his mojo working so well that his burning influence shaped jazz organ for all time.
Jay Majors & Hookup will perform for Art & Soul Wednesday in a free concert in the Indianapolis Artsgarden at 12:15 p.m.
Kelleen performs smooth jazz vocals with excellent support from Billy Myers, bass, Roberto Monsalve, piano, and Jesse Nolan, drums, in the plush and intimate setting of the Velvet Lounge at 3406 E. 86th St. every Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The Sound Crime Trio offers jazz on Wednesdays at the Coaches Tavern, 28 S. Pennsylvania St., at 8:30 p.m