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Johnny Hammond: Breakout

Jim Santella By

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The CTI jazz catalog holds many surprises. This one features a strong 8-piece band led by organist Johnny Hammond (1933-1997), who was known earlier as Johnny "Hammond" Smith. Recorded in 1971, the album emphasized swinging mood music with a flair for popular sounds. It marked a turning point in the career of Grover Washington, Jr. He, Hank Crawford and Eric Gale are all over the place, alongside Hammond's B-3. It’s a party. A previously unissued track, recorded shortly after the release of Breakout, is added to the end of this reissue.

Hammond turned the keyboard into his personal "singing" machine. Relying on a powerful rhythm section, he wailed loud and clear. Soul-jazz like this appealed to a wide audience. Still does. At the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, Hammond mesmerized with his 16-minute edition of "It's Too Late." Guest George Benson seems to be drawing his energy from Hammond. At one point, the organist enthuses like a wild man. The audience reaction matches ours. No wonder they were clapping on 2 and 4. Powerful percussion highlights from Billy Cobham and Airto drive the message home. It was a memorable night, and the added track simply increases the album's unquestioned value. Like most of the other CTI jazz treasures being reissued this year, Johnny Hammond's Breakout is a don't-miss affair.


Track Listing: It's Too Late, Workin' On A Groovy Thing, Never Can Say Goodbye, Blues Selah, Breakout, It's Too Late (live).

Personnel: Hank Crawford - Sax (Alto); Johnny Hammond - Organ; Airto Moreira - Percussion; Billy Cobham - Drums; Eric Gale - Guitar; Grover Washington, Jr. - Sax (Tenor); Danny Moore - Trumpet; John Williams - Keyboards; Johnny Williams - Bass.

Title: Breakout | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: CTI Records


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