Jimmy SMITH – The Sermon! 1958

Jimmy SMITH – The Sermon! 1958
1984 Issue. BST 84011
Recorded at Manhattan Towers, New York, New York on August 25, 1957 and February 25, 1958

Jazz

Jimmy Smith put the Hammond B-3 organ on the jazz map for good in the 1950s. The Sermon, dating from 1958, is among his best recordings, featuring the exceptional lineup of trumpeter Lee Morgan, altoist Lou Donaldson, tenorman Tina Brooks, guitarist Kenny Burrell, drummer Art Blakey, and others. Smith’s smooth, vibratoless sound perfectly suits the nimble and prodding leads of the player as he touches on R&B, soul, blues and, of course, gospel. This brings us to “The Sermon,” which is reason enough to seek this gem out. Smith’s group takes the title tune out for a 20-minute, fully improvised, slow-blues stroll, during which each player shares the spotlight. The soul-stirring feeling set in motion by Smith rubs off on the other musicians to make this tune and album a defining moment in organ jazz, and even in soul music. The Sermon stands as a sparkling gem in the Rudy Van Gelder reissue series.
By Tad Hendrickson.
**
It’s Sunday afternoon on the strip, and one club has become the magnet for musicians who today have no other jobs to report to. The B3 player starts it off with a medium-tempo blues in F, soon other guys show up, unpack their horns and take their individual turns on the stand–a guitarist, a tenor player, trumpet man, and an altoist.
Scenes such as this were once commonplace, and “The Sermon” above all recalls a time when the music was looser and freer, less organized and protective, more communicative and human. The continuing popularity of Jimmy Smith’s “Sermon” is, we can hope, not merely representative of a retro trend but testimony to the enduring power of music played “in the moment” by the combination of capable musicians and the most common of all denominators–the blues.

Not that the performances are ordinary (though neither are they extraordinary). Kenny not only solos with economy but shows how to make guitar mesh with organ, Tina keeps it direct while hinting at formidable bebop chops held in reserve, Lee curtails technique and playfully accentuates the beat, Lou finishes up sounding like Cannonball. Meanwhile, Blakey just keeps laying down that unyielding backbeat and Jimmy constructs a solid bass-line foundation while using his right hand to pump the rhythm (often “doo-dot” on the first beat of the measure) and to create harmonic tensions (this blues man loves to raise the 11th of those dominant chords).

Jimmy’s accomplishment on this track has less to do with his virtuosity (in fact, there’s little of it–even the registration bars remain the same, and Leslie effects are minimal) than his supplying the power and energy for the session. It just keeps building and building, mainly because Jimmy never stops coming. And like sermons of the morning variety, this late-Sunday variation is alternately spiritual and sensual, heady and earthy, climaxing in a cartharsis no less inspiring.
By Samuel Chell.
**
When Jimmy Smith exploded onto the jazz scene in 1956, he changed everything about the way the organ was used and perceived in jazz. His first two years of recording were mind-bogglingly prolific, producing 13 albums. Three marathon jam sessions during this period produced some of Smith’s finest early work, including THE SERMON. Smith displays both a youthful fire and a musical wisdom beyond his years throughout the album. Whether blazing through hard-bop tunes like “Confirmation” and “Au Privave” (both Charlie Parker compositions) or gently caressing the ballad “Lover Man,” Smith constantly proves himself the most inventive organist of the bop generation. In moving beyond the classic organ trio format, Smith takes the organ into new areas on THE SERMON, and trading solos with the likes of Lee Morgan and Lou Donaldson, he makes it plain that his is an individual voice worthy of its eventual place in the jazz canon. A special treat here is the tenor work of the great, underrated Tina Brooks.
**
Drums- Art Blakey , Donald Bailey (tracks: B1, B2)
Guitar- Eddie McFadden (tracks: B1, B2) , Kenny Burrell
Organ- Jimmy Smith
Saxophone [Alto]- George Coleman (tracks: B1, B2) , Lou Donaldson
Saxophone [Tenor]- Tina Brooks (tracks: A)
Trumpet- Lee Morgan
**
A.   The Sermon  20:20
Written-By – Jimmy Smith
B1.  J.O.S.  12:00
Written-By – Jimmy Smith
B2.  Flamingo  8:00
Written-By – Anderson , Grouya
**


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