Jimmy Smith: Just Friends


Just Friends


Jimmy Smith (organ)


House Party (Blue Note 46546)

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Jimmy Smith (organ), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), George Coleman (alto sax), Donald Bailey (drums), Eddie McFadden (guitar).

Composed by John Klenner and Sam Lewis


Recorded: New York, August 25, 1957


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

I once heard Brian Wilson explain that the single most important factor in recording a hit song was to make sure it was around three minutes in duration. People's attention span, it seems, can't handle anything much longer—well, at least not after a long day of catching waves down by the pier. Maybe nobody ever told Jimmy Smith. With track such as “Back at the Chicken Shack,” "The Duel" and “The Champ,” he routinely pushed beyond the eight-minute mark, and "The Sermon" is quite a homily, lasting for more than twenty minutes. On "Just Friends" he continues his crusade for the long jazz track, stretching out for a quarter of an hour of medium-tempo grooving. Yet, pace the Beach Boy, you are unlikely to find this music ennui-inducing. Smith's solo is fascinating, less funky than usual, relying rather on very raw singe-note lines. It almost sounds like a piano solo translated to the organ—something of an anomaly for this artist. But Coleman (on alto) and Morgan are also in top form. Also check out Smith's comping, which ranges from church organ celebrations to jagged thrusts into the middle of the horn player's hindquarters. Just friends? Maybe after the session.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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