Before Jimmy Smith, the electric organ was almost exclusively a church instrument. That’s not a bad thing, but in Smith’s hands, the Hammond B-3 became an entire jazz band in itself. He brought the organ into clubs up and down the East Coast and helped turn it into a staple sound in American music. His trademark virtuoso technique has influenced every jazz organ player since. His walking bass lines on foot pedals, deep left-hand grooves and never-ending right-handed lines came to define an entire genre of jazz — hard bop.

After bursting onto the Philadelphia scene in the mid-1950s, Smith released one juicy, soulful album after the next. His mix of gospel, R&B, blues and be-bop was the party music of choice in hip households during the ’60s. Sideman after sideman played with Smith before embarking on their own careers — a whole lot funkier than they would have been otherwise.

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