Johnny "Hammond" Smith

A Little Taste

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A Little Taste is a sturdy quartet date, featuring Smith supported by Virgil Jones on trumpet, Houston Person on tenor sax, and Luis Taylor on drums. There's more of a straight jazz (as opposed to soul-jazz) influence on this than on some other Smith sessions of the time, evident from the opener, a strong, boppish cover of Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream." It's good to hear a soul-jazz quartet that moves a little beyond the standard genre progressions into some hard-driving bop ("Bennie's Diggin'" is a good example) and minor key excursions ("Cleopatra and the African Knight"). It's largely an up-tempo collection, though not one that gets monotonous, and the fellows do slow things down into a bluesier grinder on the closer, "Twixt the Sheets." The entire album has been added, in its entirety, to Milestone's single-disc CD reissue of another 1963 Smith date, Open House.

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