Stay Loose

Jimmy Smith

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Stay Loose Review

by Steve Leggett

Jimmy Smith, of course, was known mostly for his Hammond B3 organ skills, where his fingers skittered over the keys with piano-like speed, and his bluesy, soulful approach to jazz, which bordered on light funk at times. There is plenty of all of that on Stay Loose...Jimmy Smith Sings Again, and yes, as advertised, he sings, which really wasn't all that unusual, just that he did it more here than he normally did. Smith had a wonderful voice, gruff and full of gravel, but also full of wry amusement and a whole lot of joy, and his vocal adaptation of "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town" which kicks off this set (backed by a trumpet and trombone horn section) may well be the definitive version of this old blues standard. He comes close to repeating the trick on "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby," a pop hit from the 1940s. Elsewhere he mostly groans and hums in the background, which gives everything here a kind of gospel-blues feel. Other standout tracks include the title jam, "Stay Loose," which is wonderfully funky (a remix of "Stay Loose" by Lyrics Born, funked up even more, was the centerpiece for Verve Remixed 3), and a similarly loose and soulful take on Don Covay's "Chain of Fools," a hit in 1968 for Aretha Franklin. Grady Tate shines on drums throughout Stay Loose, and Stanley Turrentine's bluesy tenor sax gives two of the instrumentals, "One for Members" and "Grabbin' Hold" a nice lift. Stay Loose isn't a typical Jimmy Smith album, but it isn't radically different, either, and it belongs on a short list of the best he ever recorded.

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