Jimmy Smith: The Sermon


The Sermon


Jimmy Smith (organ)


The Sermon (Blue Note 7243 5 24541 2 9)

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Jimmy Smith (organ), Lou Donaldson (alto sax), Tina Brooks (tenor sax), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Art Blakey (drums).

Recorded: New York, February 25, 1958


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

“The Sermon” is a straight-ahead, 12-bar blues in which everyone solos. It also was the tune that proved, once and for all, that the organ is not a gimmick as a jazz instrument. If it were, it would be hard to sustain the listener’s interest for 20 minutes, which is precisely what the title track of The Sermon did, taking up all of side one of the original LP. Regardless of whether he’s soloing or comping behind his sidemen, Smith puts a lot of thought into his work. He begins right off with a playful solo that resorts to no cheap tricks – yes, he uses finger and thumb to fire away at a single F-sharp in rapid succession, but it makes sense and he doesn’t overdo it. Done with his own solo, he gets out of the way and lets everyone else at it. Twenty minutes later, the sermon is over and our spirit is fulfilled.

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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  • 1 Charles Davis // Sep 14, 2008 at 02:03 PM
    I have been listening to this album since I was 19 years old. I am now 66. Jimmy "James Oscar" Smith is the greatest jazz organist of all time. If there are greater .. I haven't heard them. I love his work. Too bad he has left us but his music lives on. Charles Davis Sr, Rocky Mount, NC. I first heard him when I was in the Air Force in 1961.
  • 2 Al // Oct 12, 2008 at 11:22 PM
    I lost this album many years ago. Can I get a copy of the original now?? Please let tme know?? Thanks
  • 3 AKJ // Dec 28, 2008 at 12:47 AM
    Thank you, Steve Greenlee for your appreciation of Jimmy Smith. The Sermon was played for me for the first time while I was visiting with friends of my family. It must have been 1959 or so. Their teenage daughter who was studying drims - and who was remarkable in other ways - took me into her room and began playing records. She chose one and said, "this is called The Sermon". I said, yeah, its Jimmy Smith. She said, "Yes, but really listen to it:" I did. It was an awakening. I am the son of musicians - and this evening in the room of a teenage girl who I'd just met I fell into a new dimension of appreciation. I always listened carefully after that. My all-time favorite trumpet solow - still - is Lee Morgan on J.O.S. it is remarkable. Lee was just a boy himself, chronologically. Spiritually he was an ancient voice. Thank you, Jimmy Smith for hundreds of hours of inspiration and enjoyment.
  • 4 Bill Benjamin // Jan 21, 2009 at 08:56 PM
    This is the quintessential Blue Note blowing session and features the cream of the hard bop players who recorded for the label in the late 50s and early 60s. Of course, Jimmy Smith plays just great, but if you want to hear him REALLY killing, run out and buy the 2-CD set, "Groovin' at Smalls' Paradise." I promise you'll never be the same after listening to that recording.