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Vercelli's Vault: Remembering Jimmy Smith

  Rich Pedroncelli, file / AP

Jimmy Smith plays the organ on stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York in this June 1974 file photo.

Rich Pedroncelli, file / AP

In this mid-90’s in-studio interview with jazz legend Jimmy Smith, the master of the Hammond B-3 jokes a lot, but also talks about his seminal, early Blue Note recordings. Smith also acknowledges the influences of Charlie Parker, Don Byas, and other horn players. He also brings up his interest in martial arts and defines Mojo!


Largely self-taught, Jimmy Smith’s powerful style on organ combined R&B sensibilities with lively bebop elements. His walking bass lines were the perfect foundation for his left hand chord work and his right hand fiery innovations. Smith collaborated with the best in the business, including Oliver Nelson, Stanley Turrentine, and Kenny Burrell. He also influenced all the organ masters who came in his wake, including Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, and Larry Young.


Smith called Sacramento home for a time in the ‘90’s, Mick Martin recorded with Jimmy in 1993, then went on to perform with him at Carnegie Hall. “He was one of the people who changed my life,” says Mick, adding, “He was the Charlie Parker of the organ. Jimmy invented the language that everyone else tried to pick up on. His incredible version of “Walk On The Wild Side” influenced everything I would do as an instrumentalist.”

This rendition of "Hobo Flats" originally debuted during a mid-90s broadcast of NPR's JazzSet and features Mick on harmonica.

 Jimmy SmithVercelli's Vault

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