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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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LEGENDS OF ACID JAZZ

HAMMOND HEROES

Prestige 888072314344

 

 


1. Please Mr Jackson - Jack McDuff
2. Takin' Care Of Business - Shirley Scott
3. Smooth Sailing - Arnett Cobb featuring Austin Mitchell
4. Sticks and Stones - Johnny "Hammond" Smith
5. Remember - Jimmy Forrest featuring Larry Young
6. Twistin' the Jug - Gene Ammons featuring Jack McDuff
7. Crib Theme - Red Holloway featuring John Patton
8. Rock Candy - Jack McDuff
9. Pool Shark - Willis Jackson featuring Carl Wilson
10. Donald Duck - Don Patterson
11. Misty - Richard "Groove" Holmes
12. One Track Mind - Freddie Roach
13. Take Five - Trudy Pitts

 

"Acid jazz" is one of those phrases that seem to defy definition - possibly because they were fairly meaningless in the first place. The music of the last few decades seems littered with similarly opaque names, like nu-jazz, acid house and trip-hop. Mostly they arise because people want to attach a label to a style of music that incorporates diverse elements or which has just been thrown together - often by DJs from a variety of sources.

The term seems to have arisen in the late 1980s. Gilles Peterson claims that, when working as a DJ at Dingwalls in London: "We put on this old 7-inch by Mickey and the Soul Generation which was a rare groove record with a mad rock guitar intro and no beat. I started vary speeding it so it sounded all warped. Chris Bangs got on the microphone and said, 'If that was acid house, this is acid jazz'. That's how acid jazz started, just a joke!"

At any rate, the music seems to have been a mixture of jazz with funk and/or soul (and sometimes electronic sounds and other elements) to produce something suitable for dancing. It appropriated venerable jazz tracks and used them in a supposedly updated way.

This selection of 13 tracks from 1959 to 1967 lets us hear some of the original sources of acid jazz from organists of the time. It is one of a series of "Legends of Acid Jazz" CDs which also features gene Ammons and Roy Ayers. Thankfully the recordings have not been messed about too much: just "remastered" by Joe Tarantino in 1998, when the album was originally released.

The items seem to divide naturally into two categories: original tunes based on the blues, and jazz standards given the Hammond organ treatment. There is nothing by the doyen of Hammond organists, Jimmy Smith - nor, for that matter by Wild Bill Davis or Jimmy McGriff. But there are examples from such notables as Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott and Johnny "Hammond" Smith. Many tracks also feature a tenor-saxist and/or guitarist - the staples of organ groups. For example, one of the jazz standards - Remember - includes solos by tenorist Jimmy Forrest (mis-spelt "Forest" on the sleeve) and guitarist Thornel Schwartz, with Larry Young sounding slightly less abrasive than on occasions.

Another great version of a jazz classic is Richard "Groove" Holmes's recording of Erroll (mis-spelt "Erol" on the sleeve) Garner's Misty, with the beat superbly emphasised by Jimmie Smith's drums and Holmes' bass pedals. The other choice classic of Hammond jazz is Jack McDuff's Rock Candy from 1963, with a basic blues riff as the tune and some super soloing from saxist Red Holloway and guitarist George Benson. Other famous jazzers can be heard on several tracks, such as tenor-saxists Arnett Cobb in Smooth Sailing and Booker Ervin on Donald Duck. In fact there seem to be as many tenorists as organists on this album.

Ignore the "acid jazz" tag and just accept this as a useful introduction to some of the top jazz organists from the golden era of the Hammond B-3.

 

Tony Augarde 



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