A feast of Hammond B-3 blues mastery awaits on Jimmy Smith’s new Verve CD, Dot Com Blues. One of the architects of the organ’s role in jazz and blues, Smith invigorates some classics and turns out new work with the assistance of several brilliant guests and sidemen. He’s joined by heavyweights Etta James and B.B. King, luminaries Dr. John and Taj Mahal and relative newcomer Keb’ Mo’. The supporting band swings from the rhythm section of drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Reggie McBride and includes the guitars of Phil Upchurch, Russell Malone and producer John Porter.
Mahal cruises through his funky shuffle groove, "Strut," with Smith adding his signature percolation. "C.C. Rider" is a warm and languid seven-minute workout with Russell Malone soloing in a Jimmy Ponder mode. Soul queen Etta James comes on strong with an organ-bounced and buoyant cover of Willie Dixon’s classic "I Just Wanna Make Love to You." Good chemistry continues with Keb’ Mo’s extraordinary voice and guitar on his own "Over & Over," and Dr. John is splendid as usual behind the piano on "Mr. Johnson" and with his gravelly vocals on the opening selection, "Only in It for the Money."
The meeting of the giants, B.B. and Jimmy, on "Three O’Clock Blues" isn’t overwhelmingly stirring, but Smith jumps through keyboard hoops on several delicious instrumentals and displays his unique horn-like attack to fine effect. There’s no lack of soul and blue emotion, either, and they’re epitomized on the slow-burning closing number, "Tuition Blues."
Jimmy Smith & Company cruise through 11 satisfying selections, from intimately funky small-combo grooves to big horn-arranged pieces with never a dull moment. This is "organic" blues at its best.
— Tali Madden