Jimmy Smith – Angel Eyes- Ballads & Slow Jams

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The ’90s lounge revival and the hubbub surrounding acid jazz would seem ideal reasons for veteran jazz organist Jimmy Smith to pull rank and power up his Hammond B-3 for the sort of greasy grooves and ur-funk riffs that remain the blueprint. Instead, Smith pulls a smarter move: subtitled “Ballads & Slow Jams,” the set finds him teaming with younger labelmates Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Mark Whitfield, and Christian McBride and downshifting into a program of ballads culled from jazz and classic- pop perennials. From Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” and Neal Hefti’s “Lil’ Darlin'” to slices of Mancini, Gershwin, and Matt Dennis’s title song (forever associated with Sinatra), a slow jam by any other name translates to make-out music–in this case, of the most elegant, highly satisfying order.

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