JIMMY SMITH — Jimmy And Wes:The Dynamic Duo (review)

JIMMY SMITH — Jimmy And Wes:The Dynamic Duo album cover Album · 1966 · Blues Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
What a pair. Jimmy and Wes are pretty damn good together, just a few minutes in to the opener 'Down by the Riverside' and you'll be convinced.

Before CTI in the 70s, Creed Taylor was producing for Verve when he brought together Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery, (artists he'd worked with before, only separately) and backed them on several tracks with a big band, or at least, a large cast.

I'm often drawn to collaborations, as the better ones yield fantastic and varied results. And on this album, a set of standards, covers and two originals, one from each leader, results are indeed rewarding. What's great about this record is its use of space. In fact, all great albums of any genre use space effectively, usually by refusing to clog or clutter it. Despite a big cast of players, 'The Dynamic Duo' is not cluttered. The rhythm section is quite bluesy and the supporting horns and woodwinds do not overpower the songs, leaving a lot of soloing space for Jimmy and Wes, who support each other very nicely throughout, especially in the songs which feature them in a quartet setting.

Both players' trademark sounds are there, Jimmy's almost gritty Hammond (though not so gritty as it would be years later on 'Root Down') and the clean, sunny strings of Wes. It isn't until '13 (Death March)' where the woodwinds make their appearance, and to great effect, supporting some quintessential soloing from Smith and restrained but smooth lead work from Montgomery. The song is really perfect for a hot summer's day, with your windows down and enough open road not to be bothered by anyone.

'Baby, It's Cold Outside' seems an odd choice to throw into the LP, and is probably the least interesting moment. Trim back 'James and Wes' a minute, no more, and it'd be perfect in my eyes. Otherwise, 'The Dynamic Duo' is a great album, finished off by the outstanding 'O.G.D (aka The Road Song)' with its really rocking solo from Jimmy.

So if you like a good shot of blues thrown into your jazz, then look no further. Four stars.
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