Johnny “Hammond” Smith, who gained his nickname for his masterful work on the Hammond B-3 organ, began his career in the late ‘50s, splitting his time between recording as a bandleader and accompanying others, including vocalists like Nancy Wilson and Byrdie Green and saxophonist Gene Ammons. By the end of the ‘60s, Hammond had become one of the preeminent soul-jazz keyboardists, thanks to albums like Gettin’ Up (1967), Nasty! (1968), and Soul Talk (1969). As the decade turned, the keyboardist continued to push the boundaries of his genre, moving further into funk-jazz. When he combined forces with the Mizell Brothers (first on 1974’s Gambler’s Life and then on Gears), the possibilities were limitless.

Ignoring the strict rules set by jazz purists, the Mizell’s arrived on the scene with fresh energy and innovative ideas about where the genre could go. Bringing a commercial sensibility to their projects, Larry and Alphonso “Fonce” Mizell shared a musically-diverse clientele – from saxophonist Donald Byrd to the Jackson 5. Together, they pioneered the sound of fusion, integrating many of the popular styles of the era, including R&B, funk, and even the emerging sounds of disco. Hammond, who was equally as excited to expand upon his work and look to the future, was a perfect match for the Mizell’s. After setting the stage with Gambler’s Life, the three men reconnected at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA (and later at Los Angeles’’s Sound Factory) to record Gears. Joining them was an all-star lineup of musicians, including drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Chuck Rainey, and keyboardist Jerry Peters. Together, they crafted lushly-arranged tracks – many of which were punctuated by soulful backing vocals – that felt equally fitting for a late-night jazz club, the radio, or the dance floor.

Johnny Hammond – Gears

Release Date:
Nov 1, 2022

Side A

Tell Me What to Do
Los Conquistadores Chocolatés
Lost on 23rd Street

Side B

Shifting Gears
Can’t We Smile


Arranged By – Larry Mizell
Arranged By [Vocals], Backing Vocals, Producer – Larry & Fonce Mizell*
Art Direction – Phil Carroll
Clavinet – Fonce Mizell
Conductor, Copyist – Sigidi
Coordinator – William Jordan
Cymbal, Gong, Percussion – Kenneth Nash
Drums – Harvey Mason
Electric Bass – Chuck Rainey
Electric Piano – Jerry PetersJohnny Hammond
Engineer, Mixed By [Remix Assistant] – Jeff Hawks
Engineer, Mixed By [Remix] – David Hassinger*Jim Nipar
Engineer, Recorded By – Eddie Bill Harris
Executive-Producer – Orrin Keepnews
Flute, Vibraphone – Roger Glenn
Guitar – Craig McMullenJohn Rowin
Keyboards [Solina] – Larry Mizell
Lacquer Cut By – KPG*
Mastered By – Kevin Gray
Organ, Synthesizer – Johnny Hammond
Photography By [Cover] – Charlie Franklin
Photography By [Liner] – Phil Bray
Piano – Jerry Peters
Recorded By [Assistant] – Phil Kaffel
Tenor Saxophone – Hadley Caliman
Trombone – Julian Priester
Violin – Michael White
Written-By – Larry & Fonce Mizell* (tracks: A1 to A3, B2, B3)