Personnel: Jimmy Smith (organ); Jimmy Allen Smith (organ); Thornel Schwartz (guitar); Donald Bailey (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Rudy Van Gelder.
Liner Note Author: Bob Blumenthal.
Recording information: Club Baby Grand, Wilmington, DE (08/04/1956).
Photographer: Francis Wolff.
Playing piano-style single-note lines on his Hammond B-3 organ, Jimmy Smith revolutionized the use of the instrument in a jazz combo setting in the mid-'50s and early '60s, and he was still the next big thing on the block when he recorded two LP volumes live over the course of two afternoon sets and three evening sets on August 4, 1956, at Club Baby Grand in Wilmington, DE. Smith had already tracked three successful studio LPs for Blue Note Records at sessions held earlier in the year in February, March, and June, and the time seemed right to present him in a concert setting where the full whirlwind force of his speedy playing could be best appreciated. Working with guitarist Thornel Schwartz and his longtime drummer Donald Bailey (who worked with Smith throughout his Blue Note years), Smith is 90 percent of the show here, bursting out with amazing rapid runs on the B-3, filling the air from one end of the room to the other as only he could. This second volume draws three of its four tracks from the second afternoon set ("Get Happy" is from the last set of the evening show) and is highlighted by the opening track, a ten-plus-minute version of Duke Ellington's "Caravan" that turns on Schwartz's fine guitar leads. Otherwise, it's all Jimmy Smith, who careens, bolts, stutters, glides, and flashes notes all over the place at a frequently breathless pace, and if Smith's studio work is generally more structured, arranged, and considered (but only a little more so), this set shows him in what was his natural habitat, astounding an audience in a small club. ~ Steve Leggett