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Jimmy Smith – The Cat Strikes Again

Jimmy Smith (Wersi Saturn W3 organ): Howard Roberts, Dennis Budimir (guitars): Ray Brown (bass): Chuck Domonico (electric bass): Ronnie Foster (piano): Oscar Brasher and Jerry Hey (trumpet, Flugelhorn): Alan Kaplan (trombone)

Recorded 1980



The Big Brawl

Down Here on The Ground

Laying Low

Free Ride

Wersi Time

Where Is Magdalena?

Lonely Shepherd

In Search of Truth

The Cat Strikes Again


Jimmy Smith’s album The Cat Strikes Again features charts by Lalo Schifrin of pieces by himself or by Smith with the one interestingly anomalous inclusion of a James Last composition called Lonely Shepherd. The recording was made in 1980 and is part of Inner City’s increasingly useful reissuing programme.

It’s a Soul-Jazz-Funk album – the balance varies from track to track – that shows off Smith’s keyboard vernacular and also serves as none-too-subtle promotion of the German instrument called the Wersi Saturn W3 organ, which Smith was happy to tout around at the time for appropriate remuneration.

The soundtrack opener The Big Brawl features something of Ronnie Fisher, erstwhile pianist for George Benson, and also the throbbing electric bass of Chuck Domonico – Ray Brown plays upright bass on the session but is much less audible unfortunately – before a long Wersi solo from the leader. As throughout the brass is largely confined to skeletal backing figures. Despite the sonic immobility of the keyboard instrument it’s interesting how much lyricism Smith can extract from such a cumbersome beast, as he demonstrates on the warmer quadrant of the easy-going Down Here on The Ground.

There’s plenty to detain the Smith fan in this album. There are the bop fanfares of Laying Low where some fine bluesy guitar soling impresses – there are three guitarists on board the set – the funk fiesta of Free Ride where up-tempo swing is the only motivation, and the filmic elements embedded in Wersi Time before Schifrin unleashes, with Smith’s abetting, a funky workout rhythm. Then there are the unusually folkloric hues, sounding Eastern European, enshrined in Where Is Magdalena? which expands the stylistic reach yet further. The lyric-romantic introduction to Lonely Shepherd promises similarly wider-ranging pleasures though the subsequent modish grooves return the listener to more expected tram lines. The title track is the closer, a jolly swinger with simple backing brass figures that reinforces the leader’s effortless command of material that doesn’t always, it’s true, stretch him too far.

Jonathan Woolf

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