Music Memories 5: Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Virginia and Jimmy
Virginia and Jimmy

I have to admit that this is another album that I bought because of the cover picture. When I went into the record store just off campus in Bloomington in 1966 I wanted to buy something by someone I had never heard before. That store had a great selection of both folk music and jazz. When I saw this album in the jazz section I knew I had to try it out. It was a lucky selection.

The arrangements were by Oliver Nelson and Claus Ogerman. I had never heard of Ogerman, but I had heard of Nelson. I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision when I heard the opening bars of Slaughter On Tenth Avenue played by a big band. When I heard Jimmy Smith’s organ start playing I knew that I was enjoying that song at least. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Parts 1 and 2 followed, and I knew that I had picked the right album, because each song was better than the last. I was disappointed in myself, however, because I had chosen to buy the monaural version of the album rather than the stereo.  was buying the album without hearing it in advance, I went cheaper in case I didn’t like the album.

When the end of the 1968-69 year at IU rolled around I was so short of money that I didn’t know if I could buy gas for the drive home. So I decided to sell some of my albums to get gas money. Since this album was not in stereo, I put it on the market. A young student from Saudi Arabia came to my room when he heard I had jazz albums for sale. He bought this album as well as one by James Moody, one by Miles Davis, and a few others that I don’t recall. He complained about the condition the albums were in (they weren’t that bad) as a way to try to bargain with me. I wouldn’t budge on the price since I needed the money, and he paid the full amount.

A few years later, when I got out of the army, I decided that I wanted to get new copies of the albums that I had sold. Sad to say, I couldn’t find the albums on sale anywhere. Amazon didn’t exist back then. I finally found this album on CD in 2007, and the James Moody and Miles Davis albums just last year. Patience is a virtue…and good jazz stays good jazz.

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