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

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Blues Citizens

Savant SCD 2087




1. Dem Philadelphia Organ Blues
2. Driftin'
3. Grieve But Be Brief
4. Blues Citizens
5. Misty
6. Pay Up
7. A Ghost of a Chance
8. Hangin' with Smooth
9. Steal Away
10. Eighth Wonder
Radam Schwartz - Hammond B-3 Organ
Bill Saxton - Tenor sax
Bruce Williams - Alto sax
Eric Johnson - Guitar
Cecil Brooks III - Drums
Kice - Vocals (track 6)


When the leader of a band plays the Hammond organ, the group is usually a trio - either organ, saxophone and drums or organ, guitar and drums. This group is a bit different: consisting of organ, guitar and drums plus two saxists. This makes for an interesting sound, especially as organist Radam Schwartz writes imaginative arrangements. One track (Grieve But Be Brief) slims down the group to a duo of Radam with alto-saxist Bruce Williams. This is a very effective pairing: a poignant eulogy to the son that Radam lost in a motorcycle accident.

Most of the other tracks have a bluesy content: half the tracks being Schwartz originals., with another (Hangin' with Smooth) by drummer Cecil Brooks III and the remainder an enterprising mixture including Herbie Hancock's Driftin' and Erroll Garner's Misty. This last is very reminiscent of the classic version of Misty by organist Richard "Groove" Holmes - deliberately so, as Radam plays it as a tribute to Holmes. However, comparison of the two versions points up one failing in Schwartz's playing: his sound is somehow less clear than that of many other Hammond organists. This could be due to the recording, or it may be caused by the particular settings that Radam uses. At any rate, Misty grooves along comfortably, with a good alto sax solo and some nice harmonising between the two saxes (except for a short period when they sound like the bagpipes!).

Of the other tracks, Dem Philadelphia Organ Blues benefits from the Wes Montgomery-like guitar of Eric Johnson. The title-track is a Schwartz original with a marching rhythm similar to Blues March. A Ghost of a Chance is a feature for the emotive tenor sax of Bill Saxton. Hangin' with Smooth is an up-tempo chase which is driven by Radam's bass pedals setting a solid beat. Steal Away is not the well-known spiritual but a later composition by Jimmy Hughes which still has some gospel righteousness about it. Eighth Wonder is a tribute to organist Jimmy Smith, upon whom Radam modelled his organ style - although he is not so adventurous with the stops as Smith was. The only inferior track features Kice, who is billed as "vocalist" on Pay Up but who actually talks his way through most of the track, which is otherwise a fairly ordinary riff-laden blues tune.

Tony Augarde

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