Jimmy Smith

Dot Com Blues

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On his first album in more than five years, Jimmy Smith, who turned 75 shortly before the release date, attempts the soul-jazz version of what Santana did on Supernatural -- heavily featuring guest stars in an attempt to broaden his appeal. The basic band consists of Smith on organ, Reggie McBride on bass guitar, and Harvey Mason on drums, but this trio is never featured alone, although four tracks feature the trio joined only by guitarist Russell Malone -- "C C Rider," "Mood Indigo" (with John Clayton replacing McBride on acoustic bass), and two new Smith originals, the title track and "Tuition Blues." (On a fifth song, a remake of Smith's "8 Counts for Rita," the quartet is joined by percussionist Lenny Castro.) Not surprisingly, these are the most jazz-oriented performances on the album. The rest of the disc takes a blues turn, with Dr. John contributing vocals and piano on his own composition, the lead-off track "Only in It for the Money"; Taj Mahal singing and playing guitar on his own "Strut"; Etta James singing the Muddy Waters hit "I Just Wanna Make Love to You"; Keb' Mo' taking guitar and vocal duties on his composition "Over & Over"; and B.B. King doing the same on his old favorite "Three O'Clock Blues." Thus, half the album is given over to guest stars who sing, making this the most vocal-dominated album ever released under Jimmy Smith's name. As a consequence, it is also something of a blues sampler with Smith playing a prominent role rather than a Jimmy Smith album. Jazz fans will be happy to know that, after more than 40 years of recording, Smith retains his ability to play, but Dot Com Blues is anything but a showcase for the man whose name is on the cover.

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