Jimmy Smith

Ultimate Jimmy Smith

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Verve's Ultimate Jimmy Smith may not live up to its billing -- after all, many of Smith's classic recordings were for Blue Note -- but the budget-priced collection is nevertheless a terrific introductory sampler. Grover Washington, Jr., a kindred spirit in the quest for groove, selected the 12 songs on the compilation, and he did an excellent job of balancing acknowledged classics with choices that illustrate Smith's range. Some listeners will undoubtedly find a favorite or two missing, but these 11 tracks -- including "The Champ," "Refractions," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf," "Walk on the Wild Side," "L'il Darlin'," "Ol' Man River," "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" and "Organ Grinder Swing" -- capture the essence of Smith's Verve recordings, which is enough to make this a worthwhile sampler.

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