Six Views Of The Blues
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Six Views Of The Blues by Jimmy Smith
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This previously unreleased album was recorded in 1958 at one of 31 sessions that the phenomenal and prolific organist Jimmy Smith participated in during his tenure at Blue Note. Credited with transforming the Hammond B-3 from a novelty item into one of the most popular instruments in jazz, Smith helped create the organ-trio sound and establish the soul-funk style so popular on jukeboxes across the U.S. in the late 1950s. An all-blues program with Cecil Payne wielding a rather cumbersome baritone saxophone, Six Views is hardly revolutionary--perhaps explaining why the album was originally kept in the can. Thankfully, today's criteria for what is release worthy differ from the standards in the late 1950s, allowing us to hear Smith with guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Art Blakey in what has become a rare recording. The grooves here are sublime--with a stellar "St. Louis Blues"--and Payne proves to be an unusually nimble soloist on the big baritone. Nota bene: "The Swingin' Shepherd Blues" was previously issued on the Blue Note single 45-1711. --Mitchell Feldman
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1.) St. Louis Blues: Not just a tired repeat of an old standard. Nice lead in by Smith with Burrell playing a few bars of familiar melody. Then it's time to improv where Payne & Burrell do great job of keeping it fresh. Blakey on drums discreet but there.
2.) Swinging Shepherd Blues: reissue but nice transition to Blues #1
3.) Blues No. 1: Nice riffs by Smith & Burrell but not frenetic. Both keep it soul & not post-bop. Blakey does some rims before keeping rhythm on hats.
4.) Blues No. 3: Burrell on guitar a standout along with Payne. Smith offers some pyrotechnics showcasing what he can do on the B3, but returns to nice laid-back soul sound. Bailey on drums keeps pace without being intrusive.
5. Blues No. 4: A more up-tempo piece-- Burrell & Payne play off each other well. When it's Smith's turn to solo, the sparks fly as he really opens it up before mellowing back down for the ending.
6. Blues No. 2: Return to a more laid-back pace, and a great way to end this terrific album. Solo time for Smith yet more proof why he is considered to be the best of Hammond B3 artists & `Philadelphia Sound'-- soul jazz coming from that part of the country at the time.
No soloist goes off the rails; every statement is a story; and, Smith as always swings as though he's coming half from the church and half from the byways. Burrell is creamy smooth without becoming airy; his melodic sensibilities remain unflappable in his solos while his support playing is amiable and sympatico. Art Blakey (aided and abetted by second drummer Donald Bailey for "Blues No. 3") anchors the proceedings with his customary aplomb and feeling, even if you suspect this just might be the most low-keyed recorded performance of Blakey's career. The contrasts provided by Cecil Payne's baritone saxophone add delicious tensions and releases to each number as well. (Just listen to his round robin turn with Burrell and Smith on "St. Louis Blues" or his gently husky solo on "The Swinging Shepherd," for two examples.)
If you're looking for incontrovertible evidence that you don't have to blast the paint off the walls or try to be heard on the planet Uranus to play the deep blues, this could be Exhibit A. You hope there's more previously-unearthed material from these sessions, of course, but this is as gratifying and as soulful as Jimmy Smith ever got (and he got plenty enough) going back to the blues.
Six tracks with organ, guitar, drums and....baritone sax that is all blues and nothing but the blues. Most of the tracks are mid tempo 12 bar blues, with a moderately fast "Blues no. 4" and a nice, slow burning "Blues no. 3". All the musicians play well together, particularly Kenny Burrell (g) and Smith, who are both great soloists but also know how to accompany the other. As another reviewer said, the baritone sax is suprisingly nimble and fluid - also a good soloist. Art Blakey provides a nice driving support, which (that's just Blakey!) can occasionally gets a bit intrusive.
While none of the compositions are real standouts and they are all very similar in style, this is a very solid CD with tight musicianship, smooth, in the pocket, groove, and some really bluesy blues.
The reviewer below me got it right too... Blues No.4 really cooks. It'll knock you right down. the other songs (all Smith originals except St. Louis Blues and The Swingin' Shepherd Blues) are pleanty good as well.
Jimmy Smith's playing is down and bluesy on the whole album, and really complements Payne's hard bari-sound. Burrell is great, though sometimes you really have to listen for him because Smith and Payne are really where it's at on this deal. Blakey's a great presence as usual (on half the tracks) as is Donald Baily. Both drummers are pretty subdued (especially Blakey! ) but the playing is there.
Anyways, get the album. It's yet another Bluenote Gem. Get it and then get Larry Young's Unity and really get down and listen to both these great organ players.