Tuesday, January 31, 2017

MUSICAL TRIBUTE * JIMMY SMITH AND HIS GROOVE SPICING UP THE MONEY PROGRAMME


Way back there in the 1960s when TV was broadcast in black and white and we learned how to tell the colour of snooker balls on the popular ‘Pot Black’ sports programme by deciphering greater shades of grey (before that became the title for a literary outrage) I used to sit down and listen, with my father, to watch the ‘Money Programme’.

The Money Programme started in 1966 and ran well into the 1970s. As you might imagine, as a teenager in the 1970s I wasn’t overly fascinated by a programme about finance. As long as my weekly pocket money for cleaning the shoes of the household came rolling in and I could afford an expense account with the local news agent for Beano comics and bubble gum I was happy.

The only thing I remember about The Money Programme was the theme tune. It is powerful and has a smack of those ‘fat cats’ in business we often hear about - the Carpetbaggers! It has musical flatulence to it borne of brass instruments whose trumping sounds you can only really appreciate by listening to it. The Hammond organ is excellent too and is the hallmark of Jimmy Smith’s repertoire.

Here is a link to it on YouTube so you can hear what I mean...





Having just delivered a cooking class in my apartment I decided to relax and add numbers to my favourites play list on Spotify and for some reason, this track came to mind – but I didn’t know the author until I did a bit of digging in cyberspace.

Jimmy Smith
According to our good friend Wikipedia, Jimmy Smith was born any time between 1925 and 1928. Timing is everything for musicians but in this case I think we can cut him a bit of slack.

Born James Oscar Smith in Norristown, Pennsylvania, at the age of six he joined his father doing a song-and-dance routine in clubs. He began teaching himself to play the piano. When he was nine, Smith won a Philadelphia radio talent contest as a boogie-woogie pianist.  After a stint in the navy, he began furthering his musical education in 1948, with a year at Royal Hamilton College of Music, then the Leo Ornstein School of Music in Philadelphia in 1949. He began exploring the Hammond organ in 1951. From 1951 to 1954 he played piano, then organ in Philly R&B bands like Don Gardner and the Sonotones. He switched to organ permanently in 1954 after hearing Wild Bill Davis’.

Well, as they say - the rest is history.

The great news for me, though, is that by chasing this guy down I have discovered a rich seam of blues and jazz created by this excellent musician.

The main title from the Carpetbaggers is from his album ‘The Cat’ in 1964. If you ever fancy throwing a 1960’s theme party on the Costa Blanca make sure you have some of the tracks as your background music and you will capture the atmosphere in a trice!

Here is Jimmy on keys performing ‘Midnight Special’ on a very grainny recording from back in the 1960’s. Check out the now legendary Kenney Burnell on guitar. 

Although the visuals leave something to be desired the sound quality is quite good.

I hope you enjoy it!

Lucky Bill



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