Johnny "Hammond" Smith

All Soul

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On Johnny "Hammond" Smith's first album as a leader, the organist simply sits himself down in front of a standard guitar-bass-drums trio (featuring guitarist Thornel Schwartz, who had previously worked with Jimmy Smith) and lets rip. The songs are a nice combination of standards, like "Secret Love," "The Masquerade Is Over" and "Pennies From Heaven," along with Smith originals that have a more blues-based, gospel-like air. His playing throughout is excellent, although at this point in his career, his influences (Jimmy Smith -- no relation -- and Wild Bill Davis, mostly) are still clearly audible. In particular, Smith seems to have picked up Jimmy Smith's familiar walking basslines and chunky left-hand chords; however, his lengthy and wide-ranging solos incorporate influences ranging from Bud Powell onwards, suggesting that his early career as a pianist was still coloring his sound. Smith would go on to make better albums, but All Soul is a promising debut.

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