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mjzee

Johnny Hammond Smith - any thoughts?

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I really liked "Breakout" on CTI. Prestige put out a ton of twofers. Any that folk here really like? I have The Soulful Blues, and it didn't knock me out on first listen. But Breakout reveals a tuneful player with a lot of drive.

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I'll return to this later. I thought there was a Johnny 'Hammond' Smith thread but looks like there are only a few recommendation/release threads.

JHS was certainly the greatest ballad player of all organists. Best ballad stuff is on his early albums for Warwick, New Jazz and Prestige.

The Warwick LP, 'Imagination' , never on CD, is very good and very rare. Uncredited tenor player is almost certainly Willis Jackson.

'That good feeling'' (PR24164) covers his first 2 NJ releases. Highly recommended.

'Talk that talk' (PR24151) covers his next 2; one with O Nelson on a few cuts, the other with Lem WInchester. Another great one. (JHS is also on O Nelson's 'Taking care of business.)

More later

MG

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OK, let’s start from the start. Johnny bought his first organ in 1956 and first recorded on organ in January 1957, as part of Chris Columbo’s band, for King.

Oh yeah pts 1 & 2 – King 5012. The band was Gil Askey (tp), Jimmy Tyler (ts), JHS (org), Floyd Smith (g), Columbo (d)

Possibly at the same time he appeared on

Chris Columbo – Summertime – Strand SL1044 (not on CD) Lord dates this as 1963, but it’s the same band as the January 1957 session only Gil Askey had been replaced by Johnny Grimes. I’ve never come across this album or the 45.

On piano, he was working for Nancy Wilson around this time, though he wasn’t recorded with Nancy. Backing a vocalist such as Nancy Wilson had an obvious effect on the way he interpreted ballads.

It’s convenient to look at his subsequent recording career in sections, first up to June 1962, mainly with Prestige. As a leader, he made 9 albums:

Imagination – Warwick W2003 (prob 1959, but maybe ’58) (probably same band as next 2 albums + Willis Jackson)

All soul – NJ8221 (Sep 1959) (PRCD24164)

That good feelin’ – NJ8229 (Nov 1959) (PRCD24164)

These two are with Thornel Schwartz, George Tucker & Leo Stevens. Very fine stuff!

Talk that talk – NJ8241 (Apr 1960) (PRCD24151) (with O Nelson)

Getting’ the message – PR7217 (Oct 1960) (PRCD24151) (with Lem Winchester)

Stimulation – PR7203 (Feb & May 1961) (PRCD24291)

Opus de funk – PR7420 (Feb & May 1961) (PRCD24291)

Both sessions introduce Freddie McCoy. Very interesting stuff.

Look out – NJ8288 (Jan 1962) (not on CD) (with Seldon Powell)

JHS cooks with Gator Tail – PR7239 (Jun 1962) (with Willis Jackson) (PRCD24282)

As a sideman, in this period, he appeared on:

Oliver Nelson – Takin’ care of business – NJ8233 (Mar 1960) OJCCD 1784)

Gene Ammons – session in June 1960 covering parts of ‘Angel eyes’ (PR7369) and ‘Velvet soul’ (PR7320) released complete on ‘The Gene Ammons story: Organ combos’ (PRLP(CD)24071) (Frank Wess also on this session)

Wild Bill Moore – Bottom groove – Jazzland 54 (July 1961) (MCD47098)

JHS then signed up with Riverside and made 4 albums just when the firm were going down the drain.

Black coffee – RLP442 (Nov 1962) (MCD47072) (live with Seldon Powell, Eddie McFadden)

Mr Wonderful – RLP466 (1963) (MCD47072)

Open house – RLP482 (1963) (MCD47089) (with Thad Jones, Powell & McFadden)

A little taste – RLP496 (1963) (MCD47089) (introducing Virgil Jones and Houston Person)

Despite Riverside’s problems at the time, these are all damn good sessions.

After making a 45 for Jell, for whom Jimmy McGriff also recorded –

I believe/The good Miss Brown – Jell 198 (1963 or ’64)

JHS returned to Prestige.

The stinger – PR7408 (May 1965) (PRCD24282) (with Person Earl Edwards (ts) & Floyd Smith)

The Stinger meets the Golden Thrush – PR7464 (Jan 1966) with Byrdie Green (voc)

Love Potion no 9 – PR7482 (Sep 1966)

Ebb tide – PR7494 (Mar 1967) (PRCD24244)

Soul flowers – PR7549 (Sep 1967) (PRCD24235)

Dirty grape – PR7564 (Jan 1968) (PRCD24235)

Nasty – PR7588 (Jun 1968) (PRCD24244)

All these Prestige sessions were produced by Cal Lampley, who wasn’t really a terribly good producer, though he did do the odd great session, one of which is ‘The stinger’.

Bob Porter replaced Cal in 1969 and produced four excellent sessions for JHS.

Soul talk – PR7681 (May 1969) (PR24177)

Black feeling! – PR7736 (Dec 1969) (PR24177)

Here it is – PR10002 (Sep 1970)

What’s going on – PR10015 (Apr 1971)

All four are right on the nail for where soul jazz was coming from and going to at the time. Grover Washington Jr, a recent discovery of Charles Earland, is on the final album. In a foretaste of what was to come, ‘What’s going on’ features overdubbed horns and strings.

As a sideman in this period, he made several albums with Byrdie Green:

The Golden Thrush strikes at midnight – PR7503 (Jul 1966)

I got it bad – PR7509 (Apr 1967)

Sister Byrdie – PR7574 (Mar & Apr 1968)

And also

Sylvia Syms – Sylvia Syms – PR7489 (Apr 1967) (OJCCD897)

Billy Butler – Night life – PR7854 (Dec 1970) (PRCD24197) (with Jesse Powell & Houston Person – a great session!)

JHS then signed up for CTI/Kudu and made several albums.

Breakout – Kudu 01 (June 1971) (CDEPC6407) – a classic!

Wild horses rock steady – Kudu 04 (Oct & Nov 1971) (King KICJ8368)

The prophet – Kudu 10 (Nov 1972) (has been issued on CD in Japan)

Higher ground – Kudu 16 (Oct & Nov 1973) (has been issued on CD in Japan)

These four albums are all good, the first and last particularly good. His last for Creed Taylor was not.

Gambler’s life – Salvation 702 (1974) A Larry Mizell job.

While with Taylor, JHS appeared on some of the CTI live shows.

California concert – CTI CTX2 (July 1971)

CTI summer jazz at the Hollywood Bowl live, one, two and three – CTI 7076, 7077 & 7078 (July 1972)

He also appeared (uncredited) on some of the bonus tracks of

Stanley Turrentine – Don’t mess with Mr T – CTI 6030 (Jun 1973) (bonus tracks on CTI5127922 (Mar 1973)

One thing that’s interesting about this period (and starting with the late Prestige albums) is that JHS seems to have been quite influenced by Charles Earland. In fact, I thought that the Turrentine bonus tracks actually featured Earland, but was eventually persuaded that they were JHS.

So then JHS signed up with Milestone and made some more albums like ‘Gambler’s life’.

Gears – M9062 (Jul 1975) (This is the only one of his Milestone albums I’ve heard. Still don’t know why I’ve kept it :))

Forever Taurus – M9068 (Jun 1976)

Storm warning – M9076 (1977)

Don’t let the system get you – M9083 (1978)

At that point, Johnny, having made some good money through his career, and invested it wisely, retired, continuing to play at property investments – he bought a motel at one point. In retirement, he took the occasional gig and taught privately. He didn’t record again until 1990. His last records were all as sideman.

Diane Witherspoon - Diane Witherspoon – Tonal Gravity SS1003 (July 1990) (never seen this)

Hank Crawford – Portrait – Milestone MCD9192 (Mar 1991)

Dan Papaila – Positively – Timeless CDSJP403 (Feb 1992)

His final recording was

The Charles Earland organ summit – Cannonball CBD27102 (May 1977) (with Earland, Lonnie Smith & Jimmy McGriff).

Ten days later he died of cancer.

MG

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Gambler's Life gets you Joe Henderson, if Joe Henderson is something you'd want to get.

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Gambler's Life gets you Joe Henderson, if Joe Henderson is something you'd want to get.

But 'Higher ground' gets you Joe Henderson for real. 'Gambler's life' is just fast noise. Or so it seemed to me back in the day.

MG

PS 'Catch my soul' on 'Higher ground' has what I feel is the greatest Joe Henderson solo in an R&B bag.

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Gambler's Life gets you Joe Henderson, if Joe Henderson is something you'd want to get.

But 'Higher ground' gets you Joe Henderson for real. 'Gambler's life' is just fast noise. Or so it seemed to me back in the day.

MG

PS 'Catch my soul' on 'Higher ground' has what I feel is the greatest Joe Henderson solo in an R&B bag.

Oh crap, you're right.

Funny thing is, I always confused those two back in the day as well. I'd be in the used bins, see Gambler's Life and snatchitup thinking, "OK! HERE it is, the Johhny Hammond side with Joe Henderson, FINALLY". Then I'd look on the back and..no Joe. DAMMIT.

I must've made that same mistake at least five times over the space of about 10 years. And probably more than once never bothered to pick up and look at a copy of Higher Ground in the same bin.

Everybody has their quirks for life. Apparently this is one of mine.

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Gambler's Life gets you Joe Henderson, if Joe Henderson is something you'd want to get.

But 'Higher ground' gets you Joe Henderson for real. 'Gambler's life' is just fast noise. Or so it seemed to me back in the day.

MG

PS 'Catch my soul' on 'Higher ground' has what I feel is the greatest Joe Henderson solo in an R&B bag.

Oh crap, you're right.

Funny thing is, I always confused those two back in the day as well. I'd be in the used bins, see Gambler's Life and snatchitup thinking, "OK! HERE it is, the Johhny Hammond side with Joe Henderson, FINALLY". Then I'd look on the back and..no Joe. DAMMIT.

I must've made that same mistake at least five times over the space of about 10 years. And probably more than once never bothered to pick up and look at a copy of Higher Ground in the same bin.

Everybody has their quirks for life. Apparently this is one of mine.

Oh good; thought you'd gone wonky then, Jim :g

'Gambler's life' is pretty atrocious. I even played it 3 times back in the day to make sure it was as bad as I thought it was.

MG

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Thanks for the great perspective as always, TMG.

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Thanks MG, although I've little by JHS -(Black Coffee & Mr Wonderful ) I enjoy those two greatly , I find these educational threads very interesting. You put a lot of work into getting this altogether and I for one am very grateful for your efforts.

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Another Magnificent job, as usual, my dear Goldberg...

I'm glad to learn that JHS contributed to launch the career of Freddie Mc Coy : I always thougth vibes and Hammond are goin' very well together.

And I also agree that JHS is for a good part of the success of the Angel eyes album by Gene Ammons.

Looking at the extended discographical information you researched, don't you feel there is a trend that developed especially with Prestige : very interesting organists appear on a regular basis, but more often as excellent sidemen. That was certainly the case for JHS, although he really made his own career as a soloist, in the same vein as Don Patterson and Jack McDuff, two other Prestige stablemates.

I sould have a look at my own LP's/CD's from the Prestige repertoire, but I think at once at Sonny Philips, James Thomas ans so many others who provided luxurious, lush comping for soloists such as Ammons, Gator, Freddie McCoy, Eddie Davis, Harold Vick and so many others...Blue Note, on the other hand, seemed to privilege the hard bop soloists, Smith, Willette, Patton, Roach : that might become a very interesting and innovative research!

Anyway, I keep a copy of every of your in-depth analysis of Hammond organists : someday, that will become THE unescapable reference. :smirk:

Edited by michel devos

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Another Magnificent job, as usual, my dear Goldberg...

I'm glad to learn that JHS contributed to launch the career of Freddie Mc Coy : I always thougth vibes and Hammond are goin' very well together.

And I also agree that JHS is for a good part of the success of the Angel eyes album by Gene Ammons.

Looking at the extended discographical information you researched, don't you feel there is a trend that developed especially with Prestige : very interesting organists appear on a regular basis, but more often as excellent sidemen. That was certainly the case for JHS, although he really made his own career as a soloist, in the same vein as Don Patterson and Jack McDuff, two other Prestige stablemates.

I sould have a look at my own LP's/CD's from the Prestige repertoire, but I think at once at Sonny Philips, James Thomas ans so many others who provided luxurious, lush comping for soloists such as Ammons, Gator, Freddie McCoy, Eddie Davis, Harold Vick and so many others...Blue Note, on the other hand, seemed to privilege the hard bop soloists, Smith, Willette, Patton, Roach : that might become a very interesting and innovative research!

Anyway, I keep a copy of every of your in-depth analysis of Hammond organists : someday, that will become THE unescapable reference. :smirk:

All roads lead to Organissimo...........eventually :D

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Another Magnificent job, as usual, my dear Goldberg...

I'm glad to learn that JHS contributed to launch the career of Freddie Mc Coy : I always thougth vibes and Hammond are goin' very well together.

And I also agree that JHS is for a good part of the success of the Angel eyes album by Gene Ammons.

Looking at the extended discographical information you researched, don't you feel there is a trend that developed especially with Prestige : very interesting organists appear on a regular basis, but more often as excellent sidemen. That was certainly the case for JHS, although he really made his own career as a soloist, in the same vein as Don Patterson and Jack McDuff, two other Prestige stablemates.

I sould have a look at my own LP's/CD's from the Prestige repertoire, but I think at once at Sonny Philips, James Thomas ans so many others who provided luxurious, lush comping for soloists such as Ammons, Gator, Freddie McCoy, Eddie Davis, Harold Vick and so many others...Blue Note, on the other hand, seemed to privilege the hard bop soloists, Smith, Willette, Patton, Roach : that might become a very interesting and innovative research!

Anyway, I keep a copy of every of your in-depth analysis of Hammond organists : someday, that will become THE unescapable reference. :smirk:

Thanks Michel.

One thing that's noticeable is that JHS contributed to the start of the careers of quite a few musicians. As well as Freddie McCoy, there were Houston Person, Virgil Jones, Byrdie Green and Dan Papaila.

MG

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One thing is the album with his great version of "You Don't Know What Love Is" was not issued on CD in the US in all those twofer series.

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One thing is the album with his great version of "You Don't Know What Love Is" was not issued on CD in the US in all those twofer series.

That was on 'The stinger' which was issued in the US on PRCD24282. The CD's called 'Good 'nuff'.

MG

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Due to TMG's advice, I now own the discs Opus De Funk (twofer also includes Stimulation) and Talk That Talk (twofer also includes Gettin' The Message) and have on the way Legends of Acid Jazz (twofer of Soul Talk and Black Feeling) and Good Nuff (twofer of JHS Cooks with Gator Tail and The Stinger), as well as Billy Butler's Night Life. Thanks!

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Dirty grape – PR7564 (Jan 1968) (PRCD24235)

i should note the esteemed Señor Goldberg has provided the recording date; the release date was for "Dirty Grape" was July 1968...

Johnny%2B%252522Hammond%252522%2BSmith%2

Moby Grape "Wow" was released in April 1968... "coincidence"?

0099902480126.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaEZvk0eJhM

Side Q: is there not yet a worst/cheapest/tackiest Prestige album covers ever thread yet? "Dirty Grape" doesn't quite rank but it's on the outskirts, at least.

Edited by MomsMobley

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isn't there a Riverside? I used to know a trumpet player who I thought was on a Riverside with Smith.

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There were four Riversides, and three trumpet players on them: http://www.jazzdisco.org/johnny-hammond-smith/catalog/#riverside-rlp-442

Johnny "Hammond" Smith Plus Seldon Powell - Black Coffee (Riverside RLP 442) Seldon Powell (tenor saxophone -1,3,5/7) Johnny "Hammond" Smith (organ) Eddie McFadden (guitar) Leo Stevens (drums)
"Monterey Club", New Haven, CT, November 8, 1962
1. Black Coffee 2. Monterey Theme 3. I Remember Clifford 4. Far Away Places 5. Rufus Toofus 6. Body And Soul 7. He's A Real Gone Guy ** also issued on Riverside RS 9442.
** part of Milestone MCD 47072-2.
Johnny "Hammond" Smith - Mr. Wonderful (Riverside RLP 466) Sonny Williams (trumpet) Houston Person (tenor saxophone) Johnny "Hammond" Smith (organ) Eddie McFadden (guitar -1/4,7,8) Leo Stevens (drums)
NYC, 1963
1. Blues For De-De 2. Mr. Wonderful 3. Cyra 4. Lambert's Lodge 5. Love Letters 6. Blues On Sunday 7. Departure 8. Opus II ** also issued on Riverside RS 9466.
** part of Milestone MCD 47072-2.
Johnny "Hammond" Smith - Open House! (Riverside RLP 482) Thad Jones (cornet, trumpet) Seldon Powell (tenor saxophone, flute) Johnny "Hammond" Smith (organ) Eddie McFadden (guitar) Leo Stevens (drums -1/4,6,7) Art Taylor (drums -5) Ray Barretto (congas -1/4,6,7)
NYC, 1963
1. Open House! 2. Cyra 3. I Remember You 4. Cleopatra 5. Blues For De-De 6. Why Was I Born 7. I Love You ** also issued on Riverside RS 9482.
** part of Milestone MCD 47089-2.
Johnny "Hammond" Smith - A Little Taste (Riverside RLP 496) Virgil Jones (trumpet) Houston Person (tenor saxophone) Johnny "Hammond" Smith (organ) Luis Taylor (drums)
NYC, 1963
Nica's Dream Cleopatra And The African Knight Benny's Diggin' Brake Through Eloise A Little Taste Twixt The Sheets

** also issued on Riverside RS 9496.
** part of Milestone MCD 47089-2.

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sonny williams; nice guy, gave up the trumpet.

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My absolute favorite is Black Coffee. It's just so great all the way around and his version of "I Remember Clifford"...well, wow. I just like all the cuts on this and the sound they have in this live venue really makes you feel like you're right there. If the cover of the album is the setup of the actual bar they played (which I imagine it was)...cramped is the word. But the sound is amazing...go figure. I also like his Prestige album The Stinger a whole lot as well as his funky Prestige albums like Dirty Grape (probably the best of that bunch). But I really like all of his things. He's just one of those guys who shouldn't slip through the cracks, but does...I'm not sure why....I guess his age was part of it, I remember asking John Patton about him but he considered JHS as a 'older' guy, not a contemporary really. His earlier work too with acoustic bass was super killer too. He was just really great. One of the giants.

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I agree that Black Coffee is really good. The CD re-issue also includes his next Riverside release, Mr. Wonderful. I love that album, too. Blues For De De is such a killer tune.

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Well said Soul Stream......... the way he utilized that straight 8th playing that JOS had used in the early days was great too, Johnny made his own thing. The ballads, well........... JHS was the best. My boss has asked me to eventually compile an ebook of the essential jazz listening blog writings, not sure where it will fit, but I'm going to talk about organists and discuss Johnny's contribution to the idiom. There are many who read the blog who are unaware of him, McDuff, JOS, Don Patterson, those cats. I want to help raise people's awareness of the history of the organ, for people who are students who read the blog, and for general people checking their blog.

Edited by CJ Shearn

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