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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 15:27 GMT
Award-winning organist Smith dies
Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith played at some of New York's most famous clubs
Award-winning US jazz organist Jimmy Smith, famed for being a pioneer of the instrument, has died at 79.

The legendary musician is renowned for helping to change the sound of jazz music using the electric riffs of the Hammond B-3 organ.

He blended jazz, blues, R&B, and even gospel into a new format which came to be known as 'soul jazz'.

He worked with some of the big names of the 1950s and 1960s including Kenny Burrell, Lee Morgan and Tina Brooks.

Born in Pennsylvania on 8 December 1925, Smith began playing the organ in 1951 and made his breakthrough as a solo artist with Blue Note Records.

'Pioneering talent'

Amongst his most famous albums with the label were The Sermon, Back at the Chicken Shack and Midnight Special.

Smith also played at some of New York's most famous clubs including Cafe Bohemia and Birdland.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia said:"Jimmy Smith transformed the organ into a jazz instrument.

"Jazz has lost a pioneering talent, not to mention a one-of-a-kind personality."

Fellow Hammond B-3 artist Joey DeFrancesco said: "Jimmy was one of the greatest and most innovative musicians of our time."


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