Jimmy Smith

Retrospective

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For those who have found B3 sensation Jimmy Smith's voluminous Blue Note catalog daunting and can't find a place to start, this handsome four-CD Retrospective, covering 30 years, may be the way in. Thirty-seven of the set's thirty-eight tracks are culled from Smith's albums recorded between 1956 and 1963 -- the last, recorded in 1986, is taken from his return to the Blue Note fold. While there is no unreleased stuff here -- no alternate takes, no odd sessions, nothing, strictly catalog tracks -- what is included is a stellar look at Smith's progression as an artist in a relatively short period. Most of the big numbers are here, especially form the early years, like "The Champ," and "The Preacher," as well as his jam tune "Fiddlin the Minors" and "Yarbird Suite." His beautiful "I Can't Get Started" is present, as is "Body and Soul" and "Slightly Monkish." Of the four R&B and soul burners, "I Got a Woman," "See See Rider," "Prayer Meetin," "Midnight Special," and "Pork Chop," are included as well. Full release and personnel documentation are in the notes and Bob Blumenthal's liner essay is informative and authoritative, particularly in his description of Smith's playing. Retrospective's price tag may be a hindrance for the curious, and old-school fans will no doubt have many if not all of these cuts. But for anyone wishing to have a solid history of one of the true innovators in the music, this is a very fine collection

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