JIMMY McGRIFF: REVIEWS 

WHERE THE ACTION'S AT!

There's a bit of mystery around this little-known live package. The album (not yet issued on CD) came out on the small Veep label around 1967, but the performance (caught live in Newark, New Jersey) was probably recorded in 1965. The jacket says it was produced by Sonny Lester, so it precedes their first studio album together (1966's THE BIG BAND) and appeared after several of McGriff's other Solid State recordings had been released. In any event, McGriff's trio gives a rock solid performance here - aided substantially by guitarist Thornel Schwartz. The program drifts close to a Jimmy Smith set of the period, but McGriff sounds spot on during his own very "Green Onions"-like title track, the bluesy swinger "Upper-Ground" and on his appealing, tasty arrangements of "Up Tight" and "Georgia On My Mind." A bit too many fades for a live recording, though. 


A BAG FULL OF SOUL

Probably recorded at the same time of McGriff's Count Basie Tribute, THE BIG BAND (1966), this mostly trio session finds the great organist pretty much in his blues bag (title notwithstanding). This is how McGriff sounded on his best Sue recordings (1962-65), bluesy and swinging. Of course, McGriff is always at home with the blues and here, the "McG riffs" are scorching. There appears to be a higher than average number of McGriff originals on this out-of-print LP. But a close listen and you'll hear McGriff's "Hallelujah" is really Ray Charles's "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" and McGriff's "Boston Bust Out" is Jimmy Smith's "Delon Blues." Highlights on A BAG FULL OF SOUL are plentiful and include the blues-drenched "D.B. Blues (Part II) (with horns added), McGriff's funky "On The Way Home" and the lively "See See Rider," which can be heard on McGriff's Blue Note's GREATEST HITS CD. 


CHERRY

Here, McGriff's combo features two guitars (with brief solo interjections from Eric Gale), Milt Hinton on bass and Grady Tate on drums doing a selection of pop hits ("Tequila," "Watermelon Man," "Shadow Of Your Smile," "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," etc.) that most jazz labels force their instrumentalists to do. The brief songs are designed to fit on jukebox 45s and all constructed around basic blues motifs that allow McGriff (and Gale) to interject very tasty blues fills. The hit here is "The Comeback," a blues that proves McGriff is a strong vocalist and much better as a singer than Jimmy Smith, who was doing the same thing at the time. McGriff sticks to organ elsewhere on CHERRY.


A BAG FULL OF BLUES

Composed, arranged and conducted by Manny Albam, this 1967 all-star recording is probably better titled A BAG FULL OF BASIE. Organist Jimmy McGriff is surrounded by top-shelf players including Jerome Richardson (soprano sax), Barry Galbraith and Wally Richardson (guitars), Mel Lewis (drums), Richard Davis (bass) and Basie horn man Joe Newman (trumpet). There's no doubt McGriff is happiest in this kind of bag. His playing is spirited throughout and reflects many of the tasteful elements he learned from studying Basie's piano work. The best tracks, though, are the blusiest: "Time Waltzes On" and "The Long Days Night." And Basie was probably mighty proud of the way McGriff and company swings on "Better Late Than Never."


HONEY

Jimmy McGriff launched his "Organ & Big Blues Band," featuring an unknown electric bassist and the electric sax of Arthur "Fats" Theus, with this collection of 11 soulful chart toppers circa 1968. Surprisingly, most of these hits -- from Otis Redding ("Respect," "Dock Of The Bay"), Aretha Franklin ("Since You've Been Gone," "Chain Of Fools"), James Brown ("I Got The Feeling") and others -- have stood the test of time. So three decades later, it still sounds good. McGriff is turned on here, letting the soul take control, as he does in his best moments. But while he grooves hard throughout, the tracks are far too short (all between 2:06 and 3:37) to dig into any meaningful playing.


THE WORM

Jimmy McGriff's next Organ And Blues Band project was this 1968 hit LP. The octet, primarily a studio concoction, made only a few records during 1968-69, but included some high-caliber contributions from Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Arthur "Fats" Theus on electric tenor sax, Thornel Schwartz on guitar and, of course, McGriff’s mean B-3 machine cutting a wide swath of bluesy feeling all over. THE WORM produced at least two heavy-duty funk hits in "Blue Juice" (a good variation of "Hi-Heel Sneakers") and Theus’s great title track. McGriff plays like he means it here and the horns are well-placed for expert punctuation and often spicy solos. McGriff dips into lounge exotica with a return to the Basie songbook for Neal Hefti’s "Girl Talk." But otherwise, this stays on the right side of blues-jazz throughout. The two funk tracks, "The Worm" and "Blue Juice," are easily available on several CD compilations and the McGriff hits collection on Blue Note. Provocative cover.


STEP 1

The next of Jimmy McGriff's "Organ And Blues Band" projects seems calculated to capitalize on the success of "The Worm." It also seems like a bit of a rush job since the six titles here total little more than 26 minutes of music. The best - and catchiest tracks are "Step One" and "South Wes" (both available on McGriff's GREATEST HITS CD). Both tunes also add pointless vocals for pop appeal, but they don't detract from the appeal of both pieces. The album's rounded out by McGriff's more traditional blues (""Jimmy's Blues," "Motoring Along"), a standard ("Easter Parade") and a pop cover ("For Once In My Life"). Interesting, but not essential. 


A THING TO COME BY

Jimmy McGriff's reputation as the boss of the B-3 blues could rest solely on this excellent, and too-little known, out-of-print LP from 1969. This is the third (and final) of McGriff's "Organ and Blues Band" projects. The unnamed lineup probably includes Fats Theus on electric sax, Thornel Schwartz on guitar and possibly Blue Mitchell on trumpet. McGriff pens five of the seven tracks here -- all blues -- and alternates between piano and organ throughout. His organ playing has developed its own signature by this point. But his piano playing really stands out and begs one to consider the possibilities of an all-piano blues recording by McGriff. Highlights are all on the first side of the record: the title cut, "Charlotte" and the long bluesy "Down Here On The Moon." 


THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT

This rather too-brief set of lounge standards and one McGriff original is neither very interesting nor very memorable. The organist is on low burn throughout, and in two cases ("Laura," "All Soul"), insufferably melted down. "Moon River" and the title track seem to have a little of the energy the rest of the set lacks. But overall this 1969 LP has the feel of a quickie collection comprised of less-than-exciting outtakes and leftovers. 


ELECTRIC FUNK

This 1969 Sonny Lester production was one nearly hopelessly lost slab of solid funk. It often popped up in cut-out bins when records were still waxed. When used-record stores started disappearing, beauties like this started vanishing too. But Blue Note's blessed Rare Groove series has exhumed all 32 minutes of this hard-hitting fon-kee gem (and, to its credit, retained the original but dated cover art too). Acid jazzers are probably already familiar with "The Bird Wave," which appeared on the Blue Note Rare Grooves compilation issued in 1996. The great news is that the rest of ELECTRIC FUNK goes like this too. No sap, no frills. Just good true groove. In 1997, nay-sayers accuse this street soul (which prevailed in the early 70s) of being nothing more than TV cop-show music and Blaxploitation soundtrack stuff. Lovers will say that's the point. But in 1969, this was the next step for soul jazz; a genre Jimmy McGriff has always ruled. From his early Sue classics (all of which were recently released on CD by the Collectibles label) to his Solid State records in the 60s and on to his Sonny Lester productions on Groove Merchant and LRC in the 70s, this man has always known how to rock a groove.

Unfortunately, credits are limited here to the organ grinder and his arranger (Horace Ott - a staple of the orchestrated groove in the 70s). Some sources indicate Stanley Turrentine and Blue Mitchell sit in the orchestra pit (very brief tenor and trumpet features indicate it's certainly possible). It'd be nice, however, to know the identities of the fuzz guitarist heard here and the funky drummer (who has the rhythmic familiarity of Bernard Purdie).

Ott's arrangements are riff-oriented and stay out of McGriff's way. They often launch McGriff into one clever line after another and, fortunately, never tempt him to out-modulate the horn section as was so often the case on McGriff's earlier big-band tribute to Count Basie. Here's hoping Blue Note has room left in the budget to bring back the long-lost grooves of McGriff's THE WORM (1968) and BLACK PEARL (1971) too.


SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO

This is Jimmy McGriff doing his own thing. His quartet, most likely featuring the electric tenor sax of Arthur "Fats" Theus, divides the program between wedding-band standards ("Indiana," "Satin Doll," "Shiny Stockings") and McGriff's original blues ("Malcolm's Blues," "Something To Listen To"). McGriff is heard comping on piano during his three originals - even soloing on the title track and the intriguing "Deb Sombo," an African sounding blues where McGriff sounds as if his wicked piano lines are delivered while he's (overdubbed?) laying down the rhythm with the bass pedals of his organ. While nothing too spectacular happens here, SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO is the way to hear Jimmy McGriff doing what he does.


SOUL SUGAR

The only musician credited on the sleeve of this 1971 collection of McGriff "soul jazz" is the organist himself. However, most of the tunes are carried by unnamed horn players (trumpet, tenor sax and baritone sax and, in one case, flute). McGriff is heard noodling in between the lines and, of course, he takes all the solos. Even so, it's a particularly strong collection, as evidenced by the number of tunes from this LP ("Ain't It Funky Now," "Dig On It," "Bug Out," "Fat Cakes" and "The Now Thing") that are sampled on many other CDs. The strongest performances here, though, are probably the least known: Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" (one of the few tracks McGriff carries also has a nice Hugh Masekela African soul quality to it), Sly & The Family Stone's "You're The One," the unusual exotica of McGriff's "New Volume" and the utterly apropos take on Aretha Franklin's "Spirit In The Dark."  


GROOVE GREASE

This 1971 compilation promises to catch Jimmy McGriff in "his funky bag." True enough, at least for the first three of the album's tracks, all worthy McGriff originals. The remaining six tracks catch him in more spirited than usual lounge-jazz bag, which comes off as funkier than expected. GROOVE GREASE was one of the first Groove Merchant recordings released during Jimmy McGriff's brief "retirement" (1971-73). Producer Sonny Lester probably took a lot of leftover McGriff recordings made in the late 1960s and overdubbed some then-in wacka-wacka guitar, thumping bass and occasional horns to make it all sound new. This kind of thing happens a lot more than listeners know. And GROOVE GREASE makes it sound all pretty seamless too. McGriff plays well throughout and occasionally, as on "Red Sails In The Sunset," with a commanding originality. The three McGriff originals, where the real "groove grease" comes from, are also available on the budget-priced CD, FUNKIEST BAND IN THE LAND.


FLY DUDE

Back to basics here, organist Jimmy McGriff leads an organ-based quintet stoked by the fine contributions of Chicago guitarist George Freeman. One suspects this album, despite its back-in-the-day Mack Daddy title, is precisely the kind of music McGriff has always liked making. It’s also what he does best. There’s some effervescent jazz here (Jimmy Smith’s "Jumping The Blues" and "Yardbird Suite"), fiery soul jazz (Les McCann’s "Healin’ Feelin," "The Groove Fly"), rocking blues (McGriff’s "Butterfly"), gospel blues ("Cotton Boy Blues") and McGriff’s patented lounge-style jazz that would prevail during his Milestone years ("It’s You I Adore"). While not available on CD, "Groove Fly," "Jumpin’ The Blues" and "Cotton Boy Blues" are available on McGriff’s FUNKIEST BAND IN THE LAND CD compilation.


LET'S STAY TOGETHER

Between 1966 and 1978, producer Sonny Lester recorded around 30 of organist Jimmy McGriff’s albums for the Solid State, Groove Merchant and LRC labels. During this productive period, McGriff recorded blues and ballads with small groups, swing jazz with all-star big bands, organ battles with Groove Holmes and funky disco outings with various electronic keyboards. Lester has kept this music available on CD through his LRC label – known for its below-budget prices, cheesy cover art and hodge-podge selections. For whatever reason, musician credits are almost always missing, scant or inaccurate – and recording dates are hopelessly left out too.

LET'S STAY TOGETHER, on the other hand, is a facsimile of one of Jimmy's old Groove Merchant LPs -- in all it’s a 32 ˝-minute glory. Reissued by a company I’ve never heard of called Beast Retro, this lost McGriff episode combines four tracks recorded by a 1972 septet ("Let’s Stay Together," "Tiki", "Theme From Shaft" and "What’s Going On") with three tracks from a 1966 trio featuring guitarist Thornell Schwartz ("Old Grand Dad," "Georgia On My Mind" and "April In Paris"). The original cover art is all there, along with writer and musician credits. Even the sound reproduction puts LRC to shame.

The music, unfortunately, isn’t terribly memorable. But the R&B covers benefit by McGriff’s outstanding blues touch. The funky "Tiki" and the deep blues of "Old Grand Dad" (the only originals) make this McGriff an album worth every dollar. Although nothing surprising happens, McGriff fans will want to pick up on this cut-out classic.


GIANTS OF THE ORGAN IN CONCERT

This double album perfectly captures the musical thunder these two "giants of the organ" could muster together. Unlike their previous rather dull and bland studio pairing (COME TOGETHER), IN CONCERT features four sides of long jams of basic blues ("Talk To Me"), hard swingers ("Boston Whaler," "Chopper," "Beans"), groovers (the gospelish "The Preacher" and the Latinesque "Mozambique") and grinding funk ("Brown Bread"). Both McGriff and Holmes sound distinctive and compatible, propelled by three guitarists, a drummer and occasional percussionist. Everything you'd want and hope for from a live album by either one of these two organ giants and probably some of both Holmes and McGriff's best playing for Groove Merchant. Read an aural review by Cascadian, comparing the LRC and the P-Vine editions of this CD.


STUMP JUICE

This 1975 recording is one of the highlights of Jimmy McGriff’s 1971-1976 Groove Merchant period. The first side of the record contains four pieces of cop-show funk, three written by saxist Leo Johnson (including the excellent "Purple Onion," a hip Lalo Schifrin meets "Pick Up The Pieces" style piece) and the title track by another saxist on the date, Jesse Morrison. McGriff adds his personable fills here and there. But side two gets back to organ-combo basics. Here, McGriff is featured along with Joe Thomas on tenor sax and Jimmy Ponder on guitar. The group explores two typically bluesy McGriff numbers ("T.N.T." and "Stretch Me Out") and Ponder’s Wes Montgomery-like Latinate, "Pisces," which itself is worth the price of the album. The funky title track was recently featured on the British McGriff CD compilation, DIG ON IT.


THE MEAN MACHINE

Between 1976 and 1979, Jimmy McGriff was often featured in the disco-style productions of Groove Merchant house arranger Brad Baker. The records usually surrounded the great organist with a huge army of studio musicians, big horn sections, string parts and often heard McGriff playing keyboards other than organ. THE MEAN MACHINE, from 1976, was the first of these productions and McGriff doesn't even play organ here. The six tunes, none by McGriff, make for a kind of anonymous, but better than average funky dance music typical for the time. When Baker's horn or string charts aren't carrying the melodies, reedman Joe Thomas does a good job filling in on tenor sax or flute. McGriff never really sounds distinctive - or out front - on the Fender Rhodes, synthesizer or clavinets he plays here. But if this kind of music is your bag, it's really quite well done (sample the dancefloor hit "It Feels So Nice" to hear). Four of the six tracks here were included on the 1994 RED BEANS CD. Another, "Pogo's Stick" (perhaps McGriff's best feature here) is also on the DIG ON IT McGriff CD compilation.


RED BEANS

RED BEANS was the second of Jimmy McGriff's disco productions guided by Groove Merchant house arranger, Brad Baker (whose best work always featured McGriff). McGriff helms most of the six disco tunes here on instruments other than his familiar Hammond B-3. He leads on clavinet for "Red Beans," piano for "Space Cadet" and "Love Is My Life," electric piano for "Cakes Alive" and, finally gets back to the organ for the regrettably titled "Big Booty Bounce." McGriff riffs well, as expected, on the disco rhythms and, surprisingly, distinguishes himself on other keyboards with the same kind of soul and wit that's made him recognizable on the organ. The moodiest tracks ("Space Cadet," "Love Is My Life") are the best features for McGriff and Michael Brecker is also heard soloing on "Red Beans" and "Cakes Alive." All six tracks of this 1976 LP were issued on a 1994 CD that also included four of the six songs from THE MEAN MACHINE.


TAILGUNNER

This 1977 disco production sounds like Jimmy McGriff was added as an afterthought. His distinctive organ fills seem "dropped in" after arrangers Brad Baker and Lance Quinn recorded the rhythm, horn and string sections. Worse, this is some of the weakest music McGriff has ever participated in ("Bullfrog," a dance, which predictably never caught on, is the lowest of lows on side one). However, "Grandma's Toe Joe" makes for some pointless funky fun and McGriff's only contribution here, the horn-driven "Starlite Ballroom" (featuring notable alto and tenor solos from George Young), makes for some welcome, though out-of-place swing jazz. Otherwise, there's too little that's memorable about TAILGUNNER.


OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

This exceptional 1978 album is significant for at least two reasons. OUTSIDE LOOKING IN marks the first pairing of Jimmy McGriff with alto saxophonist Hank Crawford. And it also marks the last time McGriff worked with producer Sonny Lester, who guided the organist’s career for the previous dozen years. Despite being the typical LRC disco production (helmed by Brad Baker and Lance Quinn), OUTSIDE LOOKING IN also contains some fine period music (Quinn and Baker’s "Tapioca" and Bob Babbitt’s "Dust Pan"). Overtop an array of electric keyboards and thumping electric bass, there is consistently notable soloing from McGriff (who takes at least one traditional organ solo on all pieces except "Midnight Boogie," a feature for his synthesizer and electric piano), Crawford and guitarist Jimmy Ponder (adding a funky Wes Montgomery-like touch to the proceedings). The record jacket also bears one of the best covers for a Jimmy McGriff album: a 1959 Cadillac sticking out of one of a series of red garage doors.


MOVIN' UPSIDE THE BLUES

The second chapter in the lounging down of Jimmy McGriff. This 1981 recording, his second on JAM with producer Bob Porter, finds the organist in several small groups (featuring Harold Vick) delivering clean performances that barely break a sweat. McGriff's playing is pleasantly above reproach here, but not terribly distinctive. As would continue throughout ensuing years on Porter productions featuring McGriff (and others), it all sounds little more intoxicating than a standard organ-combo entertaining disinterested drinkers at a chi-chi lounge.

 


THE DREAM TEAM

Jimmy McGriff returns to Milestone (after a brief sojourn to Telarc) for a better-than-average outing on THE DREAM TEAM. This is as good as it gets -- at least lately. McGriff, an inventive and exciting blues and funk organist, spent the 1980s on Milestone and produced maybe one exciting performance -- "River's Invitation" from 1987's STEPPIN' UP (with frequent collaborator Hank Crawford). When he strayed to the small label Headfirst in 1991, he got down (and hip) with the terrific IN A BLUE MOOD. But since then, he's been chuggin' out the standards and slogging out ho-hum lounge blues. THE DREAM TEAM sort of reunites the cast which initiated McGriff's Milestone tenure in the mid 1980s, THE STARTING FIVE: David "Fathead" Newman (who's right on the money here, recalling the glory of his Atlantic days), guitarist Mel Brown and funk trapsman Bernard Purdie. Jazz lost tenor great Rusty Bryant since then. But his replacement, ace alto / tenor man Red Holloway, fits in nicely here.

Things get off to a great start with the ultra-funky jam of David Newman's well-titled "McGriffin" -- and all the folks involved rise to the occasion with pure, kick-butt groove. "McGriffin," a great throwback to those early 1970s Prestige jams, seems ripe for sampling but then loses points when it fades after only seven minutes. McGriff and company dig deep into McGriff's jamming "Red Hot `N' New" and bluesy "Fleetwood Stroll." They even rock out Willie Nelson's "Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away." One wishes, however, that McGriff would quit trotting out warhorses like "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" ("Teach Me Tonight" is another frequently heard McGriff standard). But you can't deny the guy swings -- even when it sounds like he's fronting a wedding band. He's even mastered the new Hammond XB-3. Here, unlike his previous outing with Hank Crawford (RIGHT TURN ON BLUES), he focuses the XB away from electronic gimmicks and more toward his classic and wonderfully identifiable B-3 sound. It's nice to hear Jimmy McGriff like this, and I highly recommend THE DREAM TEAM to the McGriff mob and those folks into some good contemporary acid jazz...but "McGriffin" makes a better title for this disc.


ROAD TESTED

Alto man Hank Crawford and organist Jimmy McGriff are made for each other. Mixing the right brew of blues, swing and funk, they compliment one another’s soulful sound in distinctive style. ROAD TESTED, the seventh pairing under both their names, is exactly what you’d expect from these two: the tried and trues of funk and blues. What gives it an edge, though, is Crawford and McGriff riffing in the excellent company of Wayne Boyd on guitar and funkmaster Bernard Purdie on sticks. It takes you to a smoky club of long ago, when this kind of group could be heard by the dozen in any major city.

ROAD TESTED opens and closes with two winners: Boyd’s funky "Peanuts" (a carbon copy of "McGriffin" from McGriff’s THE DREAM TEAM) and the 24-bar blues of Crawford & McGriff’s jam, "A Little Bit South of East St. Louis" (featuring Boyd’s terrific Melvin Sparks-like solo). In between, it’s a little more predictable. "Happy Feet" (credited to Hank Crawford) reheats the overly-familiar "Night Train" theme while "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon" and the sappy "For Sentimental Reasons" offer requisite R&B covers. "I Only Have Eyes For You" and "Summertime" serve up the corn in ways that Crawford and McGriff have perfected over the years. But their surprising, soulful redux of John Coltrane’s "Mr. P.C" is redeemingly worthwhile.

No Crawford/McGriff album is perfect (although I’d put money on their LRC work from the late 70s, which was the disco music McGriff claims in this disc’s liner notes he "just didn’t feel"). But ROAD TESTED offers some reliably soulful sounds and gotcha-groove for fatback fans and acid-jazzers.


STRAIGHT UP

Despite all-star accompanists and sterling production, organist Jimmy McGriff’s Milestone output (since 1983) has more of a lounge-combo sound than the wicked blues he cut for Sue in 1962-65 or the heady grooves of his Groove Merchant and LRC records of the 1970s. Still, STRAIGHT UP, the organ grinder’s eleventh Milestone recording, occasionally moves out of the lounge and offers its share of interesting moments.

Here, McGriff stacks the front line with the double-barreled reeds of regular associate David "Fathead" Newman and (in an inspired move), Frank Wess. Rodney Jones (a ringer for the jazzier George Benson) and Wayne Boyd are on guitar and Bernard Purdie mans the drums.

The highlight of the set is Newman’s title cut, a slow, dark, funky blues featuring both hornmen wailing on flute with signature commentary by the leader. The obligatory funk track -- the Isley Brothers classic, "It’s Your Thing" -- starts off right. But at nine minutes, the vamp goes on a little longer than necessary. McGriff is certainly in his gospel-blues element here, though, and offers wonderful, heated commentary on his Hammond X-B3, a sort of synthesized organ that provides richer sound potential and, in McGriff’s hands, emits a likeable, identifiable sound.

The group, steered, more than led by McGriff, goes back to the lounge for the Basie-like blues of McGriff’s "Doin My Thing," Jones’s "Blues For The Baby Grand," Newman’s "Brother Griff" and the less-than-thrilling arrangements of standards "It Had To Be You" and "Oleo." But despite the sometimes corny atmosphere, each tune still contains at least one interesting solo.

STRAIGHT UP isn’t perfect. But the variety on display here is nice and the ageless organ master proves he can still grind with a style that’s worth hearing.


McGRIFF'S HOUSE PARTY

Each of Jimmy McGriff's Milestone releases produced by Bob Porter since 1984 have had some sort of theme or alleged modus operandi. For McGRIFF'S HOUSE PARTY, the gimmick seems to be teaming McGriff with fellow organist, Lonnie Smith (and, to a lesser degree, tenor star Eric Alexander, a Charles Earland protégé). But McGriff and Smith have worked together before: with B. Baker's Chocolate Co. in 1979, McGriff's 1985 record, STATE OF THE ART and again in 1997 at Charles Earland's Organ Summit. Here, they are paired on four of the CD's eight tracks - and it's difficult to detect the difference in either one of their otherwise distinctive styles. Perhaps it's Rudy Van Gelder's too-clean recording or McGriff's quiet abandonment of his Hammond XB-3 (an organ synthesizer). But they're a little too closely matched for the pairing to matter much. The music, on the other hand, is several notches above McGriff's standard Milestone fare. Nothing too complex, but McGriff seems ready to leave the lounge and get back to the soul and funk of the chittlin circuit. There's a James Brown groove influencing the rhythm section throughout (most notably on George Benson's BODY TALK sounding contribution to the date, "Red Cadillac Boogaloo") and it seems inspiring to McGriff, who riffs with the aplomb he won us with back in the day. A nice comeback for one of the funkiest organists, when he wants to be.


FEELIN' IT

Jimmy McGriff's last quarter century has been rather too aimless. FEELIN' IT has all the right stuff, though: talented musicians, familiar blues and funk licks and good playing. It's all so, well, polite. It's boring too. Even the legendary Rudy Van Gelder makes it all sound so effortless and clean that it sounds, well, effortless and clean. We ain't talking greasy, though Michael Rozek's notes would have us believe otherwise. Such longtime McGriff cohorts as Bill Easley, David "Fathead" Newman and guitarist Melvin Sparks are on auto-pilot too. McGriff sounds ok here, but he's sounded this way for years. There's absolutely nothing wrong with what happens here. There's absolutely nothing memorable about it either.    

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