Saturday, February 07, 2009

Jimmy Smith - Stay Loose

I did know that Jimmy Smith sometimes sang because I'd heard a couple of his songs on local jazz station KRTU. Stay Loose is the tenth Jimmy Smith album to become part of my collection, but the first to come into my possession that features him on vocals.

Stay Loose is sort of like two mini-albums put together. Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 5 are the pieces on which Smith sings. How would I describe his voice? Well, it's pretty much a baritone, with a sort of gruff growliness at the beginning of most phrases and an understated vibrato toward the end. He can carry a tune, but he is vastly more proficient as an organist.

These four tracks previously mentioned are more or less bluesy jazz, or jazzy blues, with the organ coming through only in limited parts--the focus being more on the song than the instrument. These tracks are unusual from what I'm used to hearing when it comes to Jimmy Smith. They include full horn (trumpet and trombone) and reed sections, guitar, bass, a percussionist and a drummer, and even credit an arranger/conductor. They are a big band in sound and in fact, consisting of 15 members not counting the conductor. Bright, brassy stuff, with the horns punctuating the vocals. This is rhythm & blues before it was shortened to R&B and became just another brand of pop-for-annoying-your-parents.

Tracks 4, 6 and 7 are more typical for what I've come to expect from Smith. A five-member combo with Smith on organ, Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax, Phil Upchurch on guitar, Jimmy Merritt on bass and Grady Tate on drums.

All seven tracks were recorded on January 29, 1968.

I got this CD from, which has numerous albums by Smith, and I still have many more in my queue yet to come. If you like jazz, if you like the Hammond organ, you won't go wrong with this one. I'm reviewing this one because I just got it today, but I should get around to reviewing more of them as time goes by.

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