Dot Com Blues

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Verve
PERFORMER: Jimmy Smith (o), Reggie McBride (bg), Harvey Mason (d), The Texacali Horns, etc
CATALOGUE NO: 543 978-2

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Big band blues delivered by a mouthwatering cast, this is very sophisticated suffrin’ music indeed. All-star sessions can sometimes amount to less than the sum of their parts, unravelling under the stress of too much greatness in one recording. But here, Jimmy Smith binds up the different styles of BB King, Dr John, Taj Mahal and Etta James and keeps everyone on message.

Where the big r&b names sit out, Smith’s walking, talking Hammond B3 organ is joined by the sweetly swinging guitar work of Russell Malone, which is a treat in itself (check their versions of ‘CC Rider’ and ‘Mood Indigo’). Smith is a protean leader. Recently turned 75, he continues to set the standard by which all jazz/blues organists must be judged.

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Totally in control behind the scenes, he changes an arrangement’s shape with crowd-pleasing sustained drones or beautifully placed trills and fills, then emerges from his own accompanying role clutching a handful of stops and keys to lead from the front. Dot Com Blues may not be as demanding as some of Smith’s Blue Note sessions from the Fifties – but it is great fun. Garry Booth