Jimmy Smith – 1964 – Christmas Cookin’

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As cookin a Christmas album as you’ll ever find! Jimmy works with Billy Byers to craft some sublime instrumentals that have his Hammond interpreting Christmas classics like “We Three Kings”, “White Christmas”, “Silent Night”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. If you know Jimmy from the time, you know that he can really make tracks like these groove nicely – and take them to places you never expected!

It starts with big pompous drums, heralding an overblown version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” And then a surprise: we get some funked-up Hammond organ instead. While Smith was a jazzman, his albums regularly hit the pop charts and his sound wasn’t far away from the instrumental R&B of Booker T. and the MGs. This groovy 1964 album (also available as Christmas ’64) sounds like it was recorded halfway between the North Pole and Memphis.

Just love it, a holiday must. Comes automatically in your library on the Amazon Music player, so I can listen to it any time on my computer, as I am right now. Heavy rotation during the holidays, it never loses its appeal. Definitely a hint of humor here and there, just wonderful. But also some serious/fun Hammond B-3 jazz.

I’m a middle aged, sorta amateur jazz fan (love a lot of jazz, but am not well-versed in it). And I have a substantial Christmas music CD collection, of which there has never been enough strictly jazz Christmas material because there just hasn’t been a lot to choose from. This album gets top five placement in the entire collection, along with Herb Alpert, Mancini, Conniff, and Vince Guaraldi, and will stay there. There is nothing like this sound. If you are a B-3 fan, this album is an absolute must. It is very nostalgic and special; just get it.


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