Indestructible! Posted June 30, 2003 Report Share Posted June 30, 2003 Hi All, Well, I caught the Jimmy Smith quintet the other night here in Los Angeles, and I must say that it was some of the saddest shit I have ever seen in my life. For the record, let me state that I love Jimmy Smith, and have seen him every time he has played in LA over the past few years I've lived here. Sure he can be cranky, and is sometimes beligerant to the audience (some of the "fans" deserve the abuse, IMHO), but he usually puts on a damn fine show. I know he's getting older and usually doesn't play the entire set, but I respect that and just expect that he'll lay low and sit out a couple of numbers every time I see him. And, for some reason, I always get the same table right up front, just off of Jimmy's left. Seriously, I get the exact same table, no matter how early or late I drop by the club (I would attribute it to fate, but I'd rather attribute it to the fact that Manny at Catalina's is always as cool as shit to me!). So, I usually get to see Jimmy's behaviors during the set that most other people don't see (the way he sits at the organ, his body language, his facial features, etc.) especially when the other cats are soloing. Over the years, I've been able to predict the nights when Jimmy would be "on", and when he would have his bad sets, just by watching him approach the organ. But Saturday night, man.... After about a half hour of the other members of the band playing extended versions of "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Watermelon Man", Jimmy still wasn't on the stage. The group then broke in to "Back at the Chicken Shack", I think in the hopes that Jimmy would finally appear. He did appear, and I was shocked at what I saw. The man could barely move, and had to literally be helped to the organ. He took a couple of minutes to sit down, and then vamped a little bit on "Chicken Shack". After the song ended, he announced to the crowd that he'd been sick and that his back was sore, and then he was helped in to a chair next to the organ. The rest of the band left the stage while the guitar player did a long unaccompanied number... with poor Jimmy just sitting in the chair on the back of the stage! It was bizarre, to say the least. Jimmy kept nodding in and out of consciousness during the tune, and you could tell he was hurting pretty bad. The set resumed with the quintet playing a couple more numbers, but Jimmy wasn't playing much at all - just the ocassional vamp. The whole time, he just kept staring at me, and I must have had a shocked look on my face throughout the entire set. I teared up a couple of times, because it was clear (to me anyway) that this was the last time I was going to see this great musician play. Toward the end of the last tune, Jimmy asked me what time it was, and after I told him he stopped the set and slowly walked to the back with the help of a couple of people. After the club was pretty much empty, I had a chance to talk to one of the members of the group briefly, and he was so apologetic. I could tell he was embarrased by what happened that night, and when I mentioned that I thought Jimmy wasn't long for this mortal coil, he just gave me that little nod, you know? I hope Jimmy turns it around and pulls through. But, he looked so much different than the other times I saw him that I am more than worried about him. He's one tough cat, and I hope he makes it. If you get a chance to see him play at any time in the near future, just go. Although Jimmy wasn't really able to play, I'm still glad I had a chance to see him one more time. I'm still beating myself up over not seeing Stan Turrentine when I lived in New York... you know, I thought I'd just catch the gig the next time he was in town. But there never was a "next time"... Anyone else see Jimmy play recently? What were your impressions? I'm hoping he is just having a bad week or two, but I sense differently. Shane Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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