Album release December 2008 (UK)
1. Lovely Day
2. Walk In The Night
4. Help Me Make It Through The Night
5. Let's Stick Together
6. Midnight Hour
7. The Way You Look Tonight
8. Cavatina (Theme from The Deerhunter)
12.Boogie On Reggae Woman
13.Flip Flop Fly
'Smile' is CD number 10 in Johnny Hooper's prolific career as a great saxophonist, recording artist and entertainer. We asked Johnny about some of the tracks he has chosen:
Johnny first heard Junior Walkers version of Walk In The Night 30 years ago whilst waiting for a taxi on a cold rainy night in Newport, his home town. There was an 8-track playing in the waiting room he says and I heard this amazing tune by Junior Walker. Well, it took so long for the taxi to arrive that the 8-track went on a second loop and by the time I heard it again I loved it. When Johnny had the opportunity to record this song, composed by Johnny Bristol, he was thrilled with the finished track. It has turned out to be one of my favourite tracks on the album the more modern arrangement by Carl (Simmonds) is tremendous and Hywel Maggs guitar solo is amazing.
The title track Smile was co-written by Charlie Chaplin. Its a song Ive always loved and Carls string arrangement on this version is outstanding!
This is the first time that a Johnny Hooper album has featured a horn section Steve Matthews and Roger Snook make up The Groove Daddy Horns which feature on four tracks. Way back in 1977 I had only been playing for 2 months, when I met Steve in a record shop in Newport. He noticed I had just bought Andy Mackays (of Roxy Music) solo album In Search of Eddie Riff and we got chatting it turns out Steve had been playing the sax for 5 years. We went back to his house and he started playing along with his Selmer Mk 1V to the record I had just bought. I was really blown away and was totally inspired to be able to play like that one day. Weve remained firm friends ever since and I was thrilled he was able to come into the studio and play baritone on the new album.
The Way You Look Tonight is a classic standard written by Jerome Kern and covered by many, including Fred Astaire, but I really like the Michael Bublé arrangement says Johnny.
Johnny also worked on four Bossa Nova tracks by Antonio Carlos Jobim in the studio but ultimately decided to include just one of them on the album, the classic Desafinado. He may include the others on a future album.
Boogie On Reggae Woman was written by Stevie Wonder. Weve performed this live as a band and its a great pop song that works really well as an instrumental. Ive been considering doing more reggae tracks, perhaps even an entire reggae album in the future I used to listen to all those great songs from the Trojan label when I was fifteen!
The album finishes with the very infectious Flip Flop Fly. How did Johnny come to choose this fantastic track? My daughter Greta (a wonderful singer in her own right with a big powerful voice) lives just in the next valley from where Carls studio is. I popped in to see her and my (then) 5 year-old grand-daughter Tia. Tia had it playing on the stereo and she loved the song and wanted to know if I could play it on the saxophone. When I went back into the studio, Carl worked on an arrangement and we brought Greta in to do the backing vocals on Flip Flop Fly and also on Lovely Day.