Johnny "Hammond" Smith

The Stinger

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The Stinger Review

by Jason Ankeny

Yet another welcome addition to the Soul Jazz Collection reissue series, The Stinger is worth picking up for its cover alone -- for reasons beyond comprehension, the pop-art sleeve sports a vintage drawing of the classic DC Comics hero Green Lantern, bizarrely re-colored to feature a red and yellow costume. A casual, after-hours insouciance permeates the grooves inside -- although the arrangements and mood fit squarely within the soul jazz tradition, the performances also bear a dusky allure rooted firmly in the blues. The title track, the Eastern-flavored "Cleopatra and the African Knight" and "Benny's Diggin'" also feature the great Houston Person on tenor sax, and are among The Stinger's highlights; the majority of the material consists of Smith originals, most notable among them the blistering "Brother John," a soulful and deeply-felt homage to the genius of Ray Charles.

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