This sampler draws from organist Jimmy Smith's Blue Note and Verve recordings, picking out seven highlights from the 1956-1966 period. Included are such gems from Smith's Blue Note years as the fiery up-tempo blues "The Champ" that helped launch his career," the 20-minute all-star jam "The Sermon" (with trumpeter Lee Morgan, altoist Lou Donaldson, tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, guitarist Kenny Burrell, and drummer Art Blakey) and "Midnight Special" with tenorman Stanley Turrentine. The four Verve selections team the organist with big bands arranged by either Oliver Nelson or Lalo Schifrin, and, although spirited, are generally of lesser interest. An exception is "Night Train," which has Smith sharing the spotlight with guitarist Wes Montgomery. Overall, this CD does give listeners an idea of what Jimmy Smith's first decade on record sounded like.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow