by Rob Evans
Jimmy Smith credited with a style that revolutionized the Hammond B3 organ in the ’50s and ’60s, died at his Phoenix home on Tuesday (2/8), apparently of natural causes, his Verve Music Group publicist confirmed. He was 76.
Jimmy Smith was truly without peer,” said a statement issued by Verve president and CEO Ron Goldstein. “His creativity and original style put him in a class above all other organists. Fortunately, Jimmy leaves behind a wealth of recordings that can be discovered and cherished forever.”
Smith recorded his most notable works for Blue Note Records from the mid ’50s through the early ’60–an especially productive period that saw the artist issue about three-dozen albums. During this period, his unique, high-energy, blues-and-gospel-influenced technique established and popularized the B3 as a jazz instrument.
Though his recorded output slowed in his later years, he continued to tour regularly.
Smith’s final studio album, 2001’s “Dot Com Blues,” was a blues-heavy set that featured a long list of big-name guests, including B.B. King, Etta James, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’ and Dr. John.
On Feb. 13, Concord Records is scheduled to release “Legacy,” an album Smith recently recorded with fellow acclaimed B3 player Joey DeFrancesco.
“Jimmy was one of the greatest and most innovative musicians of our time,” DeFrancesco said in a statement. “I love the man and I love the music. He was my idol, my mentor and my friend.”