Jimmy Smith brought the Hammond organ into hard bop and jazz in the 1950s, and his piano-fast solo runs on the instrument have never been equaled. This warm set from Blue Note Records, the label where Smith built most of his impressive legacy, selects eight of his performances for the label, including a 20-minute (and ten second) version of "The Sermon," the bouncing "Back at the Chicken Shack," and a fun romp through "See See Rider," among other delights, making this a quick introduction to the peak creative era of this one-of-a-kind jazz artist's long career.
This auspicious recording started out almost as an afterthought. Jimmy Smith was in the midst of making his excellent big-band album ANY NUMBER CAN WIN when he stepped into a couple of New York studios with old pal Kenny Burrell and a rhythm section to quickly cut the sides that became BLUE BASH. The air of spontaneity is certainly present here, as Burrell and Smith use the common language of the blues to move through a varied program.
Some of Kenny Burrell's best early work ! The album catches Kenny in the perfect Blue Note jam session mode of the late 50s — one used also with Jimmy Smith, and which features a number of the label's star players hitting hard with the main soloist. Players on the two volume set include Duke Jordan or Bobby Timmons piano, Junior Cook and Tina Brooks tenor, Louis Smith trumpet, and Art Blakey on Drums. The cuts have a very open-ended blowing session feel, and Kenny comes through surprisingly well, really picking up steam on a way you don't always hear in more restrained recordings.