May 20, 2024

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I remember You … Johnny “Hammond” Smith was relentlessly tasty: Photos, Videos

Organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith was relentlessly tasty. Whenever I dig into one of his albums, my feet can’t stop moving. His grooves and chord voicings were intoxicating.

One of his finest albums, from the first track to the last, was Open House. Recorded for Riverside in 1963, the album featured Thad Jones (cnt,tp); Seldon Powell (ts,fl); Johnny “Hammond” Smith (org); Eddie McFadden (g); Bob Cranshaw (b); Leo Stevens (d) and Ray Barretto (cga).

Smith also was a wonderful composer. He wrote three of the album’s tracks—Open House, Cyra and Blues for De-De. The rest are standards—I Remember YouWhy Was I Born and I Love You. Alex North’s Theme From Cleopatra also is included.

Open House
 is an uptempo blues, with solos by Powell, Smith and McFadden, a sterling Philadelphia guitarist who played most often with organist Jimmy Smith. His comping behind Powell here is exquisite.

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Cyra is a beautiful ballad, with a cornet solo by Thad Jones.

I Remember You is an uptempo swinger. McFadden leads the way on guitar.

Theme From Cleopatra has a bossa nova beat and showcases Powell on flute. Powell’s tone is irresistible. I can’t get enough of him.

Blues for De-De is a light blues march with wonderful chord voicings by Smith. Powell on tenor saxophone and Jones on trumpet play juicy unison lines and solos.

Why Was I Born opens with thick, dramatic organ chords by Smith and McFadden takes a solo.

I Love You is taken at a peppy, mid-tempo tempo. Smith gets a terrific workout throughout and is joined midway by Jones on muted trumpet.

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Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Seldon Powell recorded together on two other albums—Look Out! and Black Coffee, both from 1962. They, too, are lovely albums. McFadden never recorded a leadership album, sadly, but can be found most often on Jimmy Smith’s recordings.

Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Seldon Powell both died in 1997.


I Remember You

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