Johnny "Hammond" Smith: The Soulful Blues
The second session dwindles the group down into a leaner, meaner quartet while retaining Person and switching to a less groove-dominated songbook. Hard bop classics like “If I Were A Bell” and “Song For My Father” stand beside original tunes like “Nasty” and “Four Bowls of Soup” and the majority of arrangements stretch out allowing for plenty of chordal improvisation. Abercrombie’s work here is a far cry from the exploratory tack he would take in the 70s and into the present, but he shows that his fluid string agility was in place even at this youthful stage of his career. Tate and Person also fit well into Smith’s more economical designs and the quartet breezes through the material with an appealing attention to subtle details and swing. Tate’s traps in particular provide a propulsive and constantly varied underpinning for much of the action to unfold atop, though they are plagued by some static on the funky shuffle “Nasty.”
Smith recorded a deluge of records for Prestige, but the dates gathered on this disc reside near the top of his prolific catalog. Listeners with an affection for skillfully rendered Soul Jazz will almost certainly be pleased by the generous amount of music available in this single, convenient package.
Track Listing: The Sin-In/ Stand By Me/ Knock On Wood/ The Soulful Blues/ Ebb Tide/ Summertime/ Getting
Record Label: Prestige Records