This two-fer combines two early-'60s dates for Johnny "Hammond" Smith, a gifted organist who had the chops to play more complex jazz changes while keeping the groove deep. Both of these dates were originally released on Riverside. Black Coffee, a club gig, was issued in 1962 with a lineup of saxophonist Seldon Powell, guitarist Eddie McFadden, and drummer Leo Stevens. Smith walks the line between beautifully rendered standards such as "Body and Soul" and "I Remember Clifford," as well as some hard-edged soul-jazz stompers including the title track and his own "Rufus Toofus." The latter set, issued a year later, featured Houston Person in the saxophone chair, and Sonny Williams on trumpet; it was recorded in the studio and is much more of a hard bop date, with the organist displaying his consummate skills on the title track, "Lambert's Lounge," and "Departure." In all, this is an excellent showcase of both of the organist's personas; both recordings stand the test of time well, and the price can't be beat.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek