Jimmy Smith Plays Fats Waller

Jimmy Smith

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Jimmy Smith Plays Fats Waller Review

by Steve Leggett

Playing piano-style single-note lines on his Hammond B-3 organ, Jimmy Smith revolutionized the use of the instrument in a jazz combo setting in the mid-'50s and early '60s, and this piano approach makes him a natural to adapt the piano tunes associated with Fats Waller to the B-3, which is what he did at the January 23, 1962, session that is represented here (Waller, by the way, was no stranger to the organ himself, and recorded several sides on the instrument). Working with guitarist Quentin Warren and his longtime drummer Donald Bailey (who worked with Smith throughout his Blue Note years), Smith brings his amazing rapid runs to Waller standards "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose," and gives "Ain't She Sweet" a wonderfully warm and soulful groove. It's fairly typical Smith, who careens, bolts, stutters, glides, and flashes notes all over the place at a frequently breathless pace, doing what he always does, which is being Jimmy Smith at the organ. That's what you want, and that's what you get here.

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