Johnny “Hammond” Smith was one of the most extraordinary jazz organists of all time. According to Les Davis, New York City jazz disc jockey, "Johnny gave proper attention to the organ’s place in jazz.”
Johnny not only brought grace, excitement, poise and soul to jazz, but he always stayed one step ahead of the current vibe. He seduced the listener into an atmosphere of melodic lines and chordal structures that had not yet been determined or touched by the pulse of the present. This was a skill. He did it well, and although he is now gone, he has still left much for us to enjoy.
Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Brazil’s top jazz producer and historian, eluded to Johnny’s forward-thinking abilities in this statement. “For some of his early fans, some of the best albums he recorded were done for Prestige in the Sixties. A younger generation, who grew up listening to the hip-hop influenced jazz sounds of the Nineties, prefers Johnny’s over-produced sessions for Milestone in the mid-Seventies, like the now cult Gears album.”
“Johnny’s inventive ad libs, his sense of good taste, his intuitive feel for jazz, and his insistence upon mastery of his instrument all combine with his true-artist’s talent of soul-baring to make this potpourri of standards and originals an extremely desirable adjunct to the too-few really good recordings of jazz organ. Johnny will undoubtedly leave a strong impression on your senses,” (Jack Walker, New York City disc jockey of WADO).
A little history to the reach of Johnny.
Johnny’s futuristic approach to jazz, and of course, his unbelievable talent, is what this project is about. It is about posterity; pulling incredible unpublished recordings from the vault of time. It is having the ability to capture a piece of history and give to fans, young and old, some wonderful music that has not yet been heard.
So you might wonder what we have? There are approximately 40 1-inch reel-to-reel tapes that were recorded during the last few years of Johnny’s life. Intimate recordings of his own creations, some with the organ and some on Fender Rhodes, all of which have never been made public. The tapes are now in a studio in Texas being transferred. It was quite an undertaking getting 40+ tapes from Nashville to Texas by car, but it's all worth it. Johnny truly left a legacy for his fans, his friends and his family.
Although it was his time to go in 1997, "His Time Is Now" to share with the world what he didn’t have a chance to say before his death. To share his music and his vision for the future of jazz.
To sum it up, Johnny was interviewed by Downbeat Magazine writer Aaron Cohen only 11 days before his death at his last performance in Chicago. Johnny stated “A lot of people associate me with Stravinsky [because of my work with classical and jazz music]. But I haven’t paid Stravinsky that much attention in my life. I’ve worked on being Johnny Hammond. Letting people know who I am, and not just being 'that organ player.' There’s another side to me, and I refuse to die and leave this world and have people say, ‘That’s it right there.’”
What we need from you...
We need $13,500 to complete this project. The funding will be used for the following:
Digitization of some of the 1-inch reel-to-reels (those that will be used for this first release)
Printing of CDs
Printing of a limited edition double LP
Graphic artist for album and CD cover
There are some incredible musicians on this first release. Johnny only used the best!
Bass - Scott Cannady
Drums - Sherman Ferguson
Guitar - Dan Papaila
Organ & Keyboards - Johnny "Hammond" Smith
Percussion - Mayuto Correa
Saxophone - Rickey Woodard
Trumpet - Oscar Brashear
Yes, we will be having a pre-release party in celebration of Johnny and this project. The musicians will be there, along with other VIPs. Lots of fun, entertainment and sharing during this meet n' greet. It will definitely be the place to be in April. Check the incentives to the right to see how you can be a part of this event.
What we give to you...
There are some awesome, exclusive rewards just for our Kickstarter backers. We want to spoil you along the way, and give you a piece of the treasure. Please look to your right and see the wonderful rewards we have to offer for your support and love. We sincerely appreciate your help, as we could not do this without you.
This project is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us. Each tape contains a jewel from the treasure chest of history, and allows us to capture just a piece of the mind of this musical genius, Johnny "Hammond" Smith.
Thank you for your time and enthusiasm. You guys are great! We will be keeping in touch with you on this page throughout the life of the project.
Risks and challenges
For those of you who don't know how Kickstarter works, if we don’t raise the $13,500, we won’t get any of the money, but if we get more than that we will be able to begin work on the second, and maybe even third release. We have a lot of tapes and music for you to enjoy.
Prophet ~ You will receive everything at the $200 level, plus an INVITATION ONLY VIP ticket to the meet n' greet pre-release party held in Los Angeles in APRIL. Also, if you would like an additional pre retail release exclusive double LP, please add $25. Pledger is responsible for all travel and venue expenses. Rewards delivered in May.
Prophet + One ~ You will receive everything at the $500 level, plus AN ADDITIONAL INVITATION ONLY VIP ticket to the meet n' greet pre-release party held in Los Angeles in APRIL. Also, if you would like an additional pre retail release exclusive double LP, please add $25. Pledger is responsible for all travel and venue expenses. Rewards delivered in May.