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.
Nov 1, 2022
Tell Me What to Do
Los Conquistadores Chocolatés
Lost on 23rd Street
Can’t We Smile
Arranged By – Arranged By [Vocals], Backing Vocals, Producer – Art Direction – Clavinet – Conductor, Copyist – Coordinator – Cymbal, Gong, Percussion – Drums – Electric Bass – Electric Piano – , Engineer, Mixed By [Remix Assistant] – Engineer, Mixed By [Remix] – , Engineer, Recorded By – Executive-Producer – Flute, Vibraphone – Guitar – , Keyboards [Solina] – Lacquer Cut By – Mastered By – Organ, Synthesizer – Photography By [Cover] – Photography By [Liner] – Piano – Recorded By [Assistant] – Tenor Saxophone – Trombone – Violin – Written-By – (tracks: A1 to A3, B2, B3)