The Jazzcat

The Great Hammond B-3 Legend Jimmy Smith has Died

by on Feb.09, 2005, under News


Jimmy Smith, the Hammond B-3 icon who creatively

revolutionized the instrument in Jazz, died of apparent natural causes on

Tuesday, February 8, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Funeral arrangements are pending.

“Jimmy was one of the greatest and most innovative

musicians of our time.  I love the man and I love the music.  He was my idol, my

mentor and my friend,” fellow Hammond B-3 artist and friend, Joey Defrancesco

said yesterday.

Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on December 8, 1925, Jimmy Smith

ruled the Hammond B-3 organ in the 1950s & 1960s. He turned the instrument

into almost an ensemble itself, fusing R&B, blues, and gospel influences

with bebop references into a jubilant, attractive sound that many others

immediately absorbed before following in his footsteps. Smith initially learned

piano both from his parents and on his own. After service in the Navy, in 1948

he studied bass at the Hamilton School of Music and piano at Ornstein¹s School

of Music in Philadelphia. He began playing the

Hammond organ in 1951, and soon earned a great

reputation that followed him to New York,

where he debuted at the Café Bohemia. A date at Birdland and then a 1957 Newport

Jazz Festival appearance launched Smith¹s career. He toured extensively

throughout the 1960s & ‘70s.

Smith’s Blue Note sessions from 1956 to 1963 were

extremely influential and are highly recommended. They included collaborations

with Kenny Burrell, Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, Ike

Quebec, and Stanley Turrentine, among others. Smith also recorded for Verve from

1963 to 1972, many of them featuring big bands and using fine arrangements from

Oliver Nelson. These included the excellent Walk on the Wild


Jimmy Smith persevered in times when the Hammond organ seemed like it was

down and out, and reigned as the master of the craft. The authentic sound of the

Hammond still lives on in his

protégé and good buddy Joey DeFrancesco. The pair recently recorded a studio

album together, Legacy, to be

released on Concord Records February 15. A national tour was in place for the

B-3 soul mates to commence at Yoshi’s February 16-20, along with a special

Iridium engagement in New York,

March 23-27.







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Crescent Drive, Suite



Hills, CA 90210




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