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Notes To And From My Friends by Bobby Floyd

When Bobby Floyd plays B-3 organ, he obviously feels the music. It inhabits him. It takes over his appearance even. A Bobby Floyd performance is one in which the audience immediately senses welcome involvement and participates through hand-clapping, dancing, swaying and vocal expressions of feeling with "oh yeses" and "that’s right’s" and "says it’s." Such is the power of the B-3 over listeners’ souls. Such is the result of Bobby Floyd’s immersion in song. He bends over the manual as if to hear subtlteties of sound emerging from the depths of the instrument. He rocks back in his seat in delectation. He appears to be entirely serious about his performance endeavors, undetractable concentration evident from his closed eyes. And then a smile of satisfaction emerges after an especially difficult passage is accomplished.

Still, Bobby Floyd isn’t entirely well known beyond his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, which is continuing its tradition of fostering jazz organ adherents. Columbus B-3 master Tony Monaco indeed produced Floyd’s Notes to and from My Friends on Monaco’s creation, Chicken Coup Records, distributed by Summit Records as a dvision dedicatded to jazz organ and the blues. It has become almost a tradition for the likes of Dr. Lonnie Smith or Jimmy McGriff to perform at the King Center in Columbus. And Columbus supported B-3 legends Don Patterson and Hank Marr. The soulfulness of the B-3 organ never left Columbus. And now Bobby Floyd too is attaining recognition for his talent as well.

Floyd’s trio on Notes to and from My Friends does pay homage to the Columbus B-3 tradition by includine on it two Patterson songs and two of Marr’s. "Hank’s Ideas" features Floyd’s appreciation of Marr’s orchestral approach to organ with broad chords and shout choruses drawn from big bands more than from other keyboard instruments. Floyd’s mid-track solo nails the style, not just by exclaiming with call-and-response self-dialogue, but also by staggering the beat a bit behind drummer Reggie Jackson’s rock-steady rhythm. Patterson’s "Hip Cake Walk" comes across as a soulful blues as Derek DiCenzo providing straight-four-rhythm-guitar back-up. But the tune’s appeal is fulfilled when Gene Walker adds a deeply affecting tenor sax voice, brimming with quotes like "Fascinatin’ Rhythm" and with Texas-tenor-like authority.

Much of Floyd’s exposure to the majesty of the organ started in church in Marion, Ohio church being the source of many other organists’ and pianists’ introduction to the soufulness inherent in music. At church, Floyd played gospel, supplementing his mother’s role as organist there when he was six. Marr’s "Your Basic Gospel Song" certainly is anything but basic as it combines up-tempo joyfulness with spiritual references made even more evident by saxophonist Bryan Olsheski’s contribution.

However, Floyd’s recording, while recalling important Columbus influences, showcases his own style, which borrows from those who preceded him, but he adds his own dash of humor, as in "Theme from The Odd Couple, which Jackson plays to a "Blues March" cadence.But not for long. After the remodulated eight-bar extension at the theme’s ending, DiCenzo launches into a swinging solo, proving that the theme can be material for infectious improvisation, particularly Floyd’s call-and-response chorus.

Speaking of DiCenzo, he had spent some time playing steel pans and guitar in Monty Alexander’s Ivory & Steel Band, and DiCenzo’s reggae groove helps make Floyd’s "Get on Board" especially effective when it starts the CD. Moreover, the track allows the listener to enjoy the wide range of styles that Floyd can capture on the B-3, in addition to the traditional groove-oriented material of the B-3 masters of the fifties and sixties. Floyd’s solo on "Get on Board" represents an effortless, light-hearted immersion in the irresistibility of the reggae rhythms. The track showing the most versatility is the one that Floyd recorded in Spain, "Primera Luz," a quiet, engaging, minor-key waltz that features Madrid guitarist Joaquin Chacon Sanchez playing over Floyd’s subdued accompaniment of sustained chords, subtly expressed.

Even though Notes to and from My Friends may be an introduction of Bobby Floyd to some, the CD confirms Floyd’s ability to absorb the music and express music as an extension of his own personality. Enthusiasts of B-3 jazz organ won’t be disappointed by Floyd’s recording. On the contrary, they will be pleased that the tradition is being carried on by such a dedicated and talented musician.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bobby Floyd
  • CD Title: Notes To And From My Friends
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Chicken Coup Records
  • Tracks: Get On Board, Yesterdays, Your Basic Gospel Song, The Nearness Of You, Hip Cake Walk, Theme From The Odd Couple, Primera Luz, Hank’s Idea, Donald Duck
  • Musicians: Bobby Floyd (organ); Bryan Olsheski, Gene Walker (saxophone); Derek DiCenzo, Joaquin Chacon Sanchez (guitar); Reggie Jackson, Noah Shaye (drums); Jeanette Williams Brewer (vocals)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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