He never attained the fame and fortune of that other organist named Smith (Jimmy, of course), but Johnny "Hammond" Smith (1933-1997) recorded extensively and never played second fiddle to anyone. The two Riverside LPs collected here--Black Coffee and Mr. Wonderful-- rank at or near the top of his output. Half the set was cut live in 1962 at a New Haven club, presumably the kind of inner-city bar where organ groups ruled, on the bandstand and the jukebox, between 1956 and 1965.
Smith's fellow soloists are New York studio ace Seldon Powell and one-time Jimmy Smith guitarist Eddie McFadden, whose dirty tone is one of jazz's vanishing pleasures. The remaining tracks, from a 1963 studio session, feature a young Houston Person playing in the robust, melodic style on tenor saxophone that has marked his lengthy career.
A flavorful blend of standards and blues, Black Coffee is Johnny "Hammond" Smith at his most bracing.
with Eddie McFadden, Houston Person, Seldon Powell, Leo Stevens, Sonny Williams