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Monday, April 4, 2022

Crazy! Baby - Jimmy Smith


A Night In Tunisia

Crazy! Baby
The Incredible Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith - Organ
Quentin Warren - Guitar
Donald Bailey - Drums
Cover Photo: Bob Ganley
Cover Design: Reid Miles
Model: Marion Barker - Car by Jaguar
Recording: Rudy Van Gelder
Blue Note ST-84030

From the back cover: It is one of the anomalies of the American artistic scene that the term "popular music" (more often abbreviated as "pop music") is generally employed in opposition to the word "jazz." The obvious implication is that the music we call jazz is not basically popular, and that popular music inherently cannot be jazz.

Jimmy Smith is a swingly assertive voice of dissent in this absurd argument. As much as any artist who has entered the jazz world in the past few years he has shown that popularity on a significant scale can be achieved without any conscious or unconscious  concession to the alleged demands of the pop market. His performances today have the same rhythmically intense and melodically inventive qualities that earned him widespread interest when his original LP, New Sounds On The Organ, was issued on BLP 1512 only four years ago. In other words, Jimmy's work is and always will be as indisputably jazz as it has become unmistakably popular.

This new collection marking his first LP release in several months, summarizes in its table of contents when Jimmy has done to weld the so-called popular and jazz fields, since the material he chose maintains an ideal balance. Of the seven tracks on these two sides, three (including Jimmy's original) are essentially jazz in character and origin; one (What's New) is a ballad that began in a jazz band; two are old pop songs and one is visually a folk melody.

It is to this final item, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, that we'll turn our attention first. Here is a theme which, for all its antiquity and frequent use in what might be considered corny contexts, nevertheless has a harmonic basis well suited to jazz improvisation. The performance seems to begin right outside the induction center – "Marching in the street," says Jimmy, "using an Oriental sound to blend with the rebel sound." Next comes what Jimmy refers to as an "Irish vamp," though to these ears the C and G pedal point seemed to suggest rather than advance of a Scots regiment. Then the trio settles into a regular tempo treatment in C Minor. The beat moves a little too fast for marching, but never too fast for swinging.

Johnny, incidentally, was issued as a 45 rpm single before the release of the present album and has established itself quite firmly as a hit.

From Billboard - August 22, 1960: Jimmy Smith again comes thru with some fine, mellow organ work on this new waxing for the table. He is heard here performing a group of pop items, folk tunes and jazz classics, with taste and musicianship. Selections include "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Mack The Knife," "A Night In Tunisia"  and "Makin' Whoopee,"

When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Makin' Whoopee
A Night In Tunisia
Sonnymoon For Two
Mack The Knife
What's New

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