JazzTimes 10: Classic Organ Jazz Albums

What to hear when you need to get your Hammond on

3. Jimmy McGriff: Blues for Mister Jimmy (Sue, 1965)

Jimmy Smith was one of those musicians whose influence was so positive that anyone who found their own path under his shadow was noteworthy. Jimmy McGriff, who grew up with Smith in Philadelphia, unquestionably tops that list of the influenced. He distinguished himself in the most straightforward way possible: by plunging directly into the blues. Tunes like “Blues for Joe” are as intensive in the Mississippi Delta 12-bars as any Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters record. At the same time, though, the album—and especially the rhythm section of guitarist Larry Frazier and drummer Jimmie Smith (no relation)—is recorded with the same vast amount of reverb that characterized the pop-soul tracks of the moment, so that “Discotheque U.S.A.” or “The Dog (You Dog)” might just as easily have been Motown records.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.