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The Sermon Original recording remastered

4.7 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, September 12, 2000
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Jimmy Smith put the Hammond B-3 organ on the jazz map for good in the 1950s. The Sermon, dating from 1958, is among his best recordings, featuring the exceptional lineup of trumpeter Lee Morgan, altoist Lou Donaldson, tenorman Tina Brooks, guitarist Kenny Burrell, drummer Art Blakey, and others. Smith's smooth, vibratoless sound perfectly suits the nimble and prodding leads of the player as he touches on R&B, soul, blues and, of course, gospel. This brings us to "The Sermon," which is reason enough to seek this gem out. Smith's group takes the title tune out for a 20-minute, fully improvised, slow-blues stroll, during which each player shares the spotlight. The soul-stirring feeling set in motion by Smith rubs off on the other musicians to make this tune and album a defining moment in organ jazz, and even in soul music. The Sermon stands as a sparkling gem in the Rudy Van Gelder reissue series. --Tad Hendrickson
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 12, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00004X0QK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,316 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Michael Brad Richman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"The Sermon" is Jimmy Smith's best album bar none. Restored to the catalog with the RVG series, hopefully this most classic of jazz organ albums will never go out of print again. An amazing array of musicians joins Smith on this session, including Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Lou Donaldson, the under-recognized genius Tina Brooks, Kenny Burrell and Donald Bailey. Buyers should be aware that this RVG version differs drastically from the original CD issue. Gone are the wonderful bonus tracks "S' Wonderful," "Blue Room," "Lover Man," "Confirmation" and "Au Private." Instead, the RVG edition matches the original vinyl sequencing -- the tracks are "The Sermon," "J.O.S." and "Flamingo." The disc is still terrific since the classic title-track, "The Sermon," which clocks in at more than twenty minutes, is one of jazz's great extended compositions, even if it is only a fiery jam session and not an avant-garde flight. Simply because of this song, "The Sermon" deserves a place in any jazz collection, beginner or advanced. The fact that the RVG reissue has cleaned up some of the slight muddiness and low-end organ distortion of the original disc, is all the more reason to buy this fantastic album. With that being said, I'm still holding on to my original CD for those five bonus cuts. Hopefully they will be reissued with improved sound at a later date.
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favourites Blue note sessions. On the sermon, well, every solo is perfect, although Tina Brook's solo is just one of the best I've ever heard, he could play the blues no dubt about that. And Lee Morgan on Flamingo, well, lets just say for me, this is the definitive version. On JOS, a fast paced number, you can really hear the magic of these sessions: Jimmy Smiths instructs with his organ that is time for a player to stop his solo, but Lee Morgan just ignores him and keeps going! A memorable moment from a great session. I agree: all tracks from this session should have been packed and sold as "The Sermon", but with the great remaster, you kind of forget about it. Now, go get 'House Party' with the rest of the tracks from this session, another excellent purchase.
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Format: Audio CD
It's Sunday afternoon on the strip, and one club has become the magnet for musicians who today have no other jobs to report to. The B3 player starts it off with a medium-tempo blues in F, soon other guys show up, unpack their horns and take their individual turns on the stand--a guitarist, a tenor player, trumpet man, and an altoist.
Scenes such as this were once commonplace, and "The Sermon" above all recalls a time when the music was looser and freer, less organized and protective, more communicative and human. The continuing popularity of Jimmy Smith's "Sermon" is, we can hope, not merely representative of a retro trend but testimony to the enduring power of music played "in the moment" by the combination of capable musicians and the most common of all denominators--the blues.
Not that the performances are ordinary (though neither are they extraordinary). Kenny not only solos with economy but shows how to make guitar mesh with organ, Tina keeps it direct while hinting at formidable bebop chops held in reserve, Lee curtails technique and playfully accentuates the beat, Lou finishes up sounding like Cannonball. Meanwhile, Blakey just keeps laying down that unyielding backbeat and Jimmy constructs a solid bass-line foundation while using his right hand to pump the rhythm (often "doo-dot" on the first beat of the measure) and to create harmonic tensions (this blues man loves to raise the 11th of those dominant chords).
Jimmy's accomplishment on this track has less to do with his virtuosity (in fact, there's little of it--even the registration bars remain the same, and Leslie effects are minimal) than his supplying the power and energy for the session. It just keeps building and building, mainly because Jimmy never stops coming. And like sermons of the morning variety, this late-Sunday variation is alternately spiritual and sensual, heady and earthy, climaxing in a cartharsis no less inspiring.
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Format: Audio CD
For 20 minutes, Jimmy Smith and co. groove like there's no tomorrow. Just like any good sermon it makes you believe it, and pray another day will come so you can hear this disc again. "J.O.S" is a cool tune with lots of nifty, odd tone color gestures from the organ thrown in. "Flamingo" is a beautiful ballad that winds things down nicely. Jimmy's got an all-star cast on hand, but for me Lee Morgan's trumpet work steals it, especially in "Flamingo" where he never runs out of melodic invention. Basically it's 40 minutes of great, locked-into-a-groove improv. led by one of the original jazz masters at the organ.
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Format: Audio CD
There are three sides to this album, the bluesy, the hard core bop, and the ballad side. Jimmy Smith, one of my favorite jazz players, recorded so many jazz albums in his career. This is definitely my favorite. The very first opening statement made by Jimmy Smith on (the track) The Sermon is so smooth. Don't get me wrong, it's not at all a calm feeling you get but a real cool feeling. Jimmy's solos throughout this album are just incredible. Here you have some of the finest artist coming together creating such deep blues vibes. An awesome line up including Lee Morgan, trumpet, George Coleman(not to be mistaken with George Foreman) and Lou Donald on alto, Tina Brooks on tenor, Kenny Burrell and Eddie McFadden on guitar, and Art Blakey and Donald Bailey on drums. The Sermon, being twenty minutes, is definitely a marathon jam session, where every artist lays out what they got and cook and cook some more, and cook so much until its so hot it can't be touched. The way Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Smith just jam together it creates a sound that is hard not to move to. Lee's solos on here are just cookin'! His solo on The Sermon is just it! Into the nineteenth minute of this twenty minute song they start wrapping it up, when Lee bursts in blowin' like a mofo and starts cookin'hot than ever before. Lou, as the last soloist on The Sermon, adds a little somethin' at the end of his solo that you will just have to hear to be able to find out what it is. Again every soloist on this album are some of the finest swingers in jazz or as some of us like to call them cooks. This is just definitely an essential for any organ lover (or cook).
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