Amazing stuff! Johnny "Hammond" Smith began his career as a simple soul jazz organist – but by the time of Gears, he'd teamed up with the mighty Larry Mizell, the genius arranger/
producer who'd breathed new life into the careers of Donald Byrd and Bobbi Humphrey. Mizell works with Hammond in the say we he does with other jazz artists – by taking a groove that works best with their solo style, and slowly layering other instrumentation and effects on top of it, so that when the solo kicks in, it's supported on waves and waves of funky sounds and soulful grooves. Mizell and his brother Fonce both play keyboards on the record, and the rest of the group includes monster fusion players like Harvey Mason
, Roger Glenn, Hadley Caliman, and Jerry Peters. The real treat is Johnny, though – as his solos are heavenly, the best of his 70s work, stripped mean and lean, laid in at just the right points. Includes the breakbeat classic "Shifting Gears", the house classic "Los Conquistadores Chocolates", and funky numbers "Fantasy" and "Tell Me What To Do". The second half of this CD is Forever Taurus, which Johnny recorded right after his legendary Gears album, and it features production by Wade Marcus that's very much in the Larry Mizell mode that made Johnny huge in the 70s! As with the Gears record, Johnny's backed by a large ensemble of players – and the overall sound has lots of nice touches, extra percussion, and a good electric groove. Tracks include "Cosmic Voyager", "Walk In Sunshine", "Ghetto Samba", and the title cut.