The funky organist of the same name became so famous during his life -- and his style of playing so beloved in the hereafter -- that the resulting near-total eclipse of an earlier Jimmy Smith in classic jazz is not surprising, if still regrettable. The Smith who was part of the marvelous rhythm sections on many famous recordings by bandleader and singer Cab Calloway came from an era of syncopated music when it was not written in stone that a string bass would be holding down the bottom end. Thus Smith became adept at any and seemingly all musical instruments capable of making noise in the low register.
Even by the standards of his peers this artist seems more accomplished than usual, performing and recording on the difficult bassoon as well as the more expected baritone sax, tuba, and contrabass. Smith was a house player at the famed Cotton Club and can be heard on a stack of compilations from the '20s and '30s as well as collections of Calloway sides. While riding in the Cab the bassist was in the company of illustrious rhythm section players including Leroy Maxey, Cozy Cole, and Charley Stamps, the latter surname describing what bandleaders like to do when rhythm sections start to turn the time around. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi