Jimmy Smith

Plays the Hits: Great Songs/Great Performances

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Verve's Great Songs/Great Performances series is yet another attempt in a seemingly never-ending stream of them to repackage -- and hopefully resell -- their vast catalog of jazz and blues. They're super cheap in both cost and presentation, but the music is almost always stellar. Jimmy Smith's Plays the Hits volume is no exception. These eight selection are covers of tunes by the Rolling Stones ("[I Can't Get No] Satisfaction"), Fats Domino ("Blueberry Hill"), Don Covay ("Chain of Fools") James Brown ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"), Otis Redding ("Respect"), Al Green ("Let's Stay Together"), and others. It's a groove lover's cheap dream. Dana Smart's track selection here is terrific, and whether the producer is Creed Taylor, Esmond Edwards, or Eric Miller, whether it was a small-band jam or an orchestral session arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson, the result is the same -- funky soul-jazz that was a couple steps away from the Blue Note hard bop and early soul-jazz sound, toward something Smith heard in rock and soul music and big-band charts of '60s pop tunes.

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