This is quite an unusual date for Jimmy Smith during his Blue Note years. He leads a quartet with baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne, guitarist Kenny Burrell and either Art Blakey or Donald Bailey on drums, one of the rare occasions he didn't use Lou Donaldson during this period. Except for a remake of Moe Koffman's hit "Swingin' Shepherd Blues," the remaining music remained unreleased until 1999, possibly because of minor sound flaws and the all-blues play list, according to reissue producer Michael Cuscuna. Regardless, this is great music that needs to be explored. Smith is still the master when it comes to slow blues on his instrument, and both Payne and Burrell contribute strong solos, especially during an extended "St. Louis Blues." Smith's four original blues are also very enjoyable. Because this release is a limited edition, pick it up before it disappears for good.
Six Views of the Blues Review
by Ken Dryden