CD Review: Jimmie Smith Live in Chicago
Jimmie Smith is one of the many great veterans of the Chicago blues scene so deserving of wider recognition.
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, the gifted musician gained recognition as the lead/rhythm guitar player and lead vocalist behind Lefty Dizz, Magic Slim, Valerie Wellington and others.
A long-time fixture on the Chicago blues circuit, and more recently in Florida, he's racked up an impressive resume that includes guitarist, lead vocalist and bandleader of Condition Blue and Slim Jim and the Fender Benders, while he currently leads the Jimmie Smith Blues Band.
He's played his blues throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, and Jimmie Smith Live in Chicago finds the guitarist in top form.
This is a digital, multi-track, audio recording of one of Jimmie's best live shows, performed on August 28, 2004 at a private party, on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Chicago.
It features a blazing hot band, made up of some of Chicago's finest blues musicians, including Scott Bradbury (Scotty & The Bad Boys, Jimmy Rogers) on harmonica, Gene Pickett (Jimmy Johnson, Big Time Sarah) on keyboard, Nick Charles (Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Lefty Dizz, Valerie Wellington, Billy Branch) on bass, and Patrick Doody (Lonnie Brooks, Alligator Records All-Star Band) on drums, and has been edited, mixed and mastered to achieve the best audio quality available.
The CD features 14 songs, which were the highlights of this smoking three-hour show, including 12 Chicago Blues classics and two fine jazz instrumentals.
It's a smoldering set of mostly familiar material from artists such as Albert King, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Rogers, and Lefty Dizz, who are obvious influences on Smith's sound.
From the hard shuffle of Reed’s, "Baby What You Want Me To Do", and the superb, bluesy take of Horace Silver's, "Song for My Father", Smith proves that he's an accomplished guitarist, while his vocals are soulful, with just the right touch of grit.
The four-piece backing band is about as tight an outfit as you can find in Chicago, and special acknowledgement should go to bassist Nick Charles, a true master, whose terrific performance here keeps the music firmly grounded in tradition.
The entire band smokes here, as Smith and company perform excellent, energized arrangements of classics from the songbooks of Albert King, "I'll Play the Blues for you", "As the Years Go Passing By", Little Walter's "Juke", Jimmy Rogers' "Walkin' By Myself", Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Help Me", John Lee Williamson's "Early in the Morning", the rousing, crowd-pleasing take of Louis Jordan's "Let the Good Times Roll", B.B. King's "Never Make Your Move Too Soon", and others, but where Smith and the band truly shine is on the classy jazz instrumental, Grover Washington Jr.'s "Coming Home", featuring Smith's expertly tasteful lead guitar, along with fine harmonica licks from veteran harp man Scott Bradbury.
The band is super tight here, and it is one of the finest tracks on the disc.
Smith closes out the set with a killer rendition of the tune he played so often with the late, great Lefty Dizz, "Chips Flyin' Everywhere", wrapping up a house-rockin’ show.
Jimmie Smith Live in Chicago delivers 14 strong performances from a great show by a notable veteran bluesman and some of Chicago’s finest blues journeymen.