Smith's superb keyboard technique is only half of his musical magic. The other is his astonishing ability to paint atmospheres and create exquisite moods. The feeling of this album is perfectly evinced, relaxed and cool, spacious yet textured and sophisticated enough to keep the ear consistently intrigued. The album's title and cover photo are an homage to a soul food diner in Harlem called Kate's Home Cooking, and the tunes parallel a range of subtle, carefully prepared flavors.
Traditional slow and mid-tempo blues predominate, such as "See See Rider" and "Come On Baby," kept fresh though Percy France's Lester Young-influenced playing, Kenny Burrell's clean guitar lines and Smith's deeply soulful leads. The sly riffing on "Gracie" and the jazz thematics of "Apostrophe" are also highlights. HOME COOKIN' offers the perfect blend of style and substance, of traditional soul and modern cool (not to mention five bonus tracks unissued on the original LP) in a mix that's tasty and utterly satisfying.