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Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still fresh and ripe today as vintage wine!, October 29, 2007
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This review is from: Straight Life (Audio CD)
The "Straight Life" album covers a familiar side of Jimmy Smith - mellow and up-tempo tunes masterfully led by Smith's bluesy and boppish technique and arrangements. Smith even plays the Hammond B-3 without percussion on two of the tunes...very seldom heard. The remarkable on this album is only one of the 10 tunes are spinning around Smith well known 12-bar format, the result is a refreshing approach by the trio to lesser-known but great jazz standards like "Swanee", "Sweet Sue, Just You" and Coleman Hawkins original "Stuffy". Jimmy Smith's trio with Warren / Bailey were amongst the tightest and best organ trios ever produced, then it's a pity that guitarist Quentin Warren is left with very little space for his inventive guitar improvisation. To be rated as a FIVE star album, "Straight Life" simply needed more variations from the trio so that the listener don't loose interest. By all means, "Straight Life" is an essential recording and addition to the Jimmy Smith discography.

I have a general skepticism to releases from the Blue Note vaults when the recordings are labeled "Unissued" or "Rejected" in the original Blue Note recordings statistics/overview by Alfred Lion (see page 117 in "Blue Note label - a discography by Rupli/Cuscuna"). With the speed and number of general releases made in 1961 by Blue Note artists, there must simply be a reason why these "unissued" labeled recordings by the regular Jimmy Smith trio (Quentin Warren on guitar and drummer Donald Bailey) wasn't released at the time. Since the tracks are recorded by Rudy van Gelder, the overall recording quality is of high "Van Gelder" standard, so it can't be the recording that put this record on the shelves. So my presumption is that the Blue Note simply decided to release "Jimmy Smith Plays Fats Waller" recorded 6 months later in January 1962 with the same trio as the annual release by Jimmy Smith and just stored these great recordings on the shelf until further notice.
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Location: Oslo, Norway

Top Reviewer Ranking: 451,019