Jimmy Smith

Damn!

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Damn! marked Jimmy Smith's return to the Verve label after an absence of 20-plus years (he originally recorded for the label from 1963 to 1972), and paired with a group of young and sympathetic jazz players that includes Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton on trumpet and Ron Blake and Mark Tuner on sax, he sounds invigorated here, striding across the Hammond B-3 keys with definite energy. The whole album, start to finish, works a wonderful groove, but versions here of James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man," and Charlie Parker's "Scrapple from the Apple" are particularly strong. Smith was arguably at his best in stripped-down trios, and his work for Blue Note between 1956 and 1960 will always be the quality reference point for his extensive canon, but Damn! is right up there with his best work, full of a joyous energy, and it sparked a resurgence of sorts for Smith.

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