Jimmy Smith (December 8, 1925 – February 8, 2005) was a jazz musician whose instrument was the Hammond organ B-3 electric organ.
Born James Oscar Smith in Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA. Smith was influenced by both gospel and blues. He first achieved prominence in the 1950s where his recordings became popular on jukeboxes before there were commonly used terms to describe his unique musical flavor. In the sixties and seventies he helped create the jazz style known as 'funk' or 'soul jazz'.
His music was characterised by playing walking bass lines with his feet, percussive chords with his left hand, and very fast melodic improvisation with the right hand.
Smith was a prolific recording artist. He first recorded with the Blue Note label in 1956. His early albums with Blue Note sold very well, aiding the label's efforts to develop other artists. They include Home Cookin', The Sermon, Midnight Special, Prayer Meetin', and Back at the Chicken Shack.
Smith switched to Verve Records label in 1963. Smith's albums with Verve include: The Boss; dot com blues; Root Down; Jimmy Smith's Finest Hour; Peter & The Wolf; Ultimate Jimmy Smith; Any Number Can Win, The Cat...The Incredible...; Bashin'; The Dynamic Duo with Wes Montgomery; Got My Mojo Workin' / Hoochie Coochie Man; Angel Eyes; Talkin' Verve: Roots Of Acid Jazz; Walk On The Wild Side: Best- Years; Damn!; Jazz Masters 29; Jazz 'Round Midnight; Further Adventures Of Jimmy and Wes; Christmas Cookin'; and Organ Grinder Swing.
It was in this period that he began a regular collaboration with Guitarist Wes Montgomery.
Smith recorded with a full orchestra and worked with arrangers and conductors such as Lalo Schifrin and Oliver Nelson . He also worked in small groups that featured many of the best jazz musicians of his era: Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Grady Tate, Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, Ike Quebec , and Stanley Turrentine among them. There are also numerous recordings with other artists available including: Stuff Smith, Dizzy Gillespie & Oscar Peterson; Love And Peace: A Tribute To Horace Silver - Dee Dee Bridgewater; The Very Best Of Christmas Jazz - Various Artists; Blue Bash! - Kenny Burrell.
His influence has been felt across multiple generations and musical styles. The Beastie Boys, Medeski, Martin & Wood, and The Hayden-Eckert Ensemble are among the better known contemporary bands that pay tribute to Smith's sensibilities and sound. The Acid Jazz movement also reflects Smith's influences.
Smith died on February 9, 2005, in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.