Soulful "Hammond"


The Soulful Blues delivers Johnny "Hammond" Smith's jazz take on classic 1960s pop and soul culled from two late-'60s releases from this B-3 master in the company of powerhouse tenor saxophonist Houston Person. Each set also features a guitarist previously in the employ of another Hammond legend with this surname -- Jimmy Smith -- Thornel Schwartz and John Abercrombie.

On The Soulful Blues, Hammond runs the show. He draws serious improvisational material from "Stand By Me," leads his band through the whipsaw "Knock On Wood," and while you might think that the world really doesn't need another interpretation of "Summertime," Smith drapes his version in a pained blue scream that lets you know his living has been anything but easy. The title track unravels precisely that: A slowed-down, low-down soulful blues so smoking hot that the organ, guitar and other solos melt into creamy blue butter.

Smith explores material more associated with jazz, including Miles' favorite "If I Were a Bell," with the more modern-sounding Abercrombie. His Hammond lays down the soft Latin foundation of Horace Silver's "Song For My Father" like a plush woven carpet, where Abercrombie's guitar nimbly creeps on padded cat feet. Hammond's slow blues with Abercrombie is completely "Nasty."

Schwartz also supports Hammond on That Good Feelin' (Prestige, 1996), and much of Hammond's output is compiled on Legends Of Acid Jazz (Prestige, '96), its successor Legends Of Acid Jazz: Soul Flowers (Prestige, '99), plus the combination of live and studio tracks Black Coffee (Milestone, '97).

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