Jimmy Smith – Bashin’ Is a Masterpiece


A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Bashin’ is back after a two and a half year hiatus, and it’s back with a vengence — both sides here are Super Hot, with some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album. In the past we’ve complained about “Rudy Van Gelder’s somewhat over the top echo-drenched brass”, but on a copy such as this there is nothing to complain about!

All that reverb on the brass sounds RIGHT. If you have a top quality front end (and the system that goes with it), this recording will be amazingly spacious, three-dimensional, transparent, dynamic, and open.

With a bit more weight and whomp down low this copy would have been competitive with the best we played. Everything above two hundred cycles is here!

Copies of this album are sometimes so SOUR or dull (or both) that they go right in the trade pile. Add to that the difficulty of finding copies that are scratch-free and not too noisy and you have one tough shootout. Inner Groove Distortion caused by the non-anti-skate-equipped turntables of the day is a chronic problem with vintage jazz records, and this title is typically no exception — except in this case! The record has no IGD and plays mostly Mint Minus, as quiet an original as we have ever heard.

Side One (The Fun Side)

With all that crazy swingin’ brass. Doc Severinsen on trumpet — who knew?

A+++, White Hot and the clear winner for side one. It’s BIGGER, richer and dramatically more Tubey Magical than any copy we have ever played before, yet there is no sacrifice in transparency or clarity. This is tube mastering at its finest. Not many vintage tube-mastered records manage to balance all the sonic elements as correctly as this copy did.

It’s so transparent — just listen to the echo off the back wall of the studio on track three!

What to Listen For — Side One

The bell tree in the right channel on track one of course! A great test for top end extension, harmonic complexity, clarity and freedom from smear. Get all the top end you can from whatever tweak or room treatment you’re trying, then check to make sure that all the brass instruments still sound right and you are good to go.

Side Two (The Organ Trio Side)

A++, with a real Midnight Blue groove going on. It’s tonally correct, lively and dynamic. It’s not as rich sounding and not quite as immediate as side one so we are calling it Super Hot, close to the best but not quite there.

RVG Redux

Regarding Rudy Van Gelder, you many have noticed that he comes in for a lot of criticism here at Better Records. We played multiple copies of this record. Obviously all of them were recorded by RVG. They also all happen to be mastered by Van Gelder, but not all of them sound like this. You can’t fault Rudy Van Gelder for the sound of pressings that, for one reason or another, do not have the better qualities of the hottest stamper copies.

He obviously cut many of his recordings properly, but for some unknown and unknowable reason the RVG magic didn’t end up in the grooves. We can’t really know who is responsible for the bad sound on some of them, but we know Rudy must be responsible for the good sound on the ones that do sound good. There’s nobody else involved.

The Gold CD

Steve Hoffman remastered this Five Star album on DCC Gold CD and did a wonderful job. It will never sound as good as one of our Hot Stampers, but you can be sure it will sound better than the stock Verve disc.


Side One

Walk on the Wild Side 
Ol’ Man River 
In a Mellow Tone 
Step Right Up

Side Two

Beggar for the Blues 
I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Although still a regular Blue Note artist (he would make four more albums for the company within the next year), Bashin’ was organist Jimmy Smith’s debut for Verve, a label that he would record extensively for during 1963-1972. On the first half of the program, Smith was for the first time joined by a big band. Oliver Nelson provided the arrangements, trumpeter Joe Newman and altoist Phil Woods have a solo apiece, and “Walk on the Wild Side” became Smith’s biggest hit up to that point. The final three numbers feature Smith’s regular trio with guitarist Quentin Warren and drummer Donald Bailey swinging with soul as usual.

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