Week 15: G.I.T.
Here we are at week fifteen…
I would like to thank all of you who helped to make our return a whopping success. I’ll speak on that further at the end of this presentation which I can assure you will be worth the time you spend reading this little blurb. As you know, I was expecting another windfall of the good stuff to hit my doorstep. It indeed did, from Christmas all the way up to just two o’clock yesterday when my copy of Saturday Night Special hit the mailbox…I’ve only got one more week of freedom before the textbooks start calling again, so I will do my best to get through them all and get the “crème de la crème” up here on these pages for your education and enlightenment. With that said, let’s get our ears dirty with Hammond legend Jimmy Smith’s “I’m Gon’ Git Myself Together”!
Try as I might, I came up with no reviews for this amazing record, released in 1971, so for the purpose of doing a nice writeup, I’ll take some excerpts from the liner notes. I’d venture to guess that these words will solidify the fact that what you are about to check out will certainly bend your mind, as this is Mr. Smith’s very first venture into the funky side of jazz which would culminate into the 1972 breakbeat masterpiece, “Root Down”.
This is the album that answers the question “can a down-home earthy, gutsy, swinging, blues-drenched jazz giant like Jimmy Smith find happiness in that spastic, hard beat, heavily amplified, eternally youthful world on the other side of the (generation) gap – Rock and Roll?” The album is successful for a number of reasons: basically, Jimmy Smith is the type of consummate artist who never gives less than his best in live or recorded situations; secondly, Jimmy has never isolated himself in any one bag because he is too aware of other idioms, other styles, other musicians, and much too hip to the reality of change; furthermore, Jimmy’s style is so close to the nitty gritty of communication that no gap is unbridgeable… No doubt about it, there’s a happy Jimmy Smith contained in this album – a later-day rocksmith who has his mojo working in any style he commands it to.
While I was traipsing around, I did stumble across this educating article written by the man himself…
“Incredible!” excerpts quoted from “Hammond Times” Volume 26 Number 2 (July-August 1964):
My first Hammond Organ was bought ten years ago. I was playing piano in small bands around Philadelphia and was so impressed with the incredible number and variety of sounds you can get with the Hammond that I couldn’t rest until I had my own. I never did take lessons, just taught myself. First, I learned about the drawbars and what each one stood for. As time passed, I experimented trying out all the different sounds. Next came the presets. I tried them out too but I don’t use them very much except when playing ballads or something sweet and soft.
When it came to the foot pedals, I made a chart of them and put it on the wall in front of me so I wouldn’t have to look down. My first method was just using the toe. In the earlier days I was a tap dancer so the transition to heel and toe playing was made without too much trouble. One thing I learned was that you have to have a relaxed ankle. I would write out different bass lines to try for different (tempos) in order to relax the ankle. One useful learning technique was to put my favorite records on and then play the bass line along with them to see if I could play the pedals without looking down and only occasionally using my chart on the wall. This worked out fine. When you are properly co-ordinated, you get an even flow in the bass. Most often, organists are uneven in their playing of the pedals, heavy here and light there. Soon I was putting hands and feet together and achieving co-ordination.
My first job with the organ was at a Philadelphia supper club, playing a duo with drums. It was here I began further experimentation with different drawbar settings and using different effects and dynamics. It was before these audiences that the Jimmy Smith sound evolved. People always ask me about this sound. This probably is best explained in my approach to the organ. While others think of the organ as a full orchestra, I think of it as a horn. I’ve always been an admirer of Charlie Parker. . .and I try to sound like him. I wanted that single-line sound like a trumpet, a tenor or an alto saxophone.
Shortly afterward, I recorded for Blue Note and my records began to get popular. After seven years with Blue Note (and twenty-one LP’s later) I moved to MGM records. My first big record for them was “Walk on the Wild Side,” from the movie of the same name. On this record I used a sole setting of 88 8000 001 on the upper manual on B preset, vibrato off, and percussion on.
After much harassment from fellow organists, fans, and musicians it is my intention to publish an organ book. This book will show musically exactly what I find very difficult to explain editorially. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to play the better type of music, even classics. I haven’t done anything like that, but I’m going to. I’m going to scare a lot of people with the incredible number of tones on the Hammond Organ before I die.
© 1964, Hammond Organ Company, Chicago, Illinois. (Thanks to theatreorgans.com for the great read!)
Now we come to the payoff… but I’m sure you’ll dig it once you hear it. I found a couple of fair priced import copies of the vinyl here and here, but not much else. I suspect that it was once reished as a Japanese import, but no such luck in finding a suitable outlet. I’ll keep digging…
Almost forgot, here’s a short preview of the funky cut “Uh Ruh“ for your immediate listening pleasure!
I’ll see you all in a few weeks so until then, enjoy, have fun(k) and as always, please be safe.
Peace and blessings.