During the ‘60s, one would have been hard pressed to find a local bar or juke joint that didn’t have a Hammond B-3 organ and the concomitant Leslie speaker as part of the landscape. Groups led by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Stitt, Wild Bill Davis, Willis Jackson, and many others kept those kinds of places packed with people who liked to jam and finger pop to the funky sounds of the time. It’s no accident then that the major independent record labels of the day would develop a stable of artists in the organ combo mold to keep those same customers happy at home with their turntables. By now you should have guessed that Fantasy’s recent batch of two-fers dip into the vaults for a few goodies from those B-3 heydays, with some other titles off the beaten track thrown in for good measure.
Aside from the more obscure names such as Gloria Coleman or Rhoda Scott, SHIRLEY SCOTT emerged as the lone female jazz organist during the ‘60s, first getting her start as a member of tenor man Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis’ quartet. Many of her great Prestige sides have been reissued, although several vital titles do remain unavailable. LIKE COZY (Prestige 24258) fills in a nice gap in regards to Scott’s earliest work for the label. With material recorded in 1958 and 1960, this new reissue collects the entire contents of the original Moodsville releases THE SHIRLEY SCOTT TRIO and LIKE COZY. Bassists George Tucker and George Duvivier share duties with drummer Arthur Edgehill being the constant on 16 delicate performances that are certainly in the narrow range of slow ballads to medium swing but which manage to impress nevertheless. A special treat to be heard is some rare piano work from Scott and the first-rate use of both organ and piano on several numbers to boot.
Scott also takes part on a few of the cuts from EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS’ new compilation entitled GOIN’ TO THE MEETIN’ (Prestige 24259). The first six cuts were initially released on the Moodsville release MISTY: EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS WITH SHIRLEY SCOTT and Scott’s STOMPIN’ (it’s a shame that we get this material in piecemeal fashion), but don’t let the label fool you because these performances swing, with the added gusto added by conga drummer Ray Barretto a pleasant touch. More substantial though are the last nine titles that formerly comprised the album GOIN’ TO THE MEETIN’. One of Davis’ rarest Prestige sets, it features a quartet with pianist Horace Parlan (!), bassist Buddy Catlett, drummer Arthur Taylor, and conga drummer Willie Bobo. As the old saying goes, these guys will swing you into bad health, Davis’ blustery yelps balanced tastefully by Parlan’s endemic sense of the blues on such chestnuts as "Night and Day," "Our Love is Here to Stay," and "People Will Say Were in Love."
Although not as well known as Jimmy Smith and his scores of followers, CHARLES KYNARD first got a start on the west coast in the early ‘60s, recording a few now-forgotten sides for Dick Bock at Pacific Jazz Records. By the end of the decade, he would head east and hook up with Prestige at a time when organ combo records were selling at a fast and furious pace. A great two-fer for fans of Kynard’s organic funk, THE SOUL BROTHERHOOD (Prestige 24257) collects the organist’s second and third albums for Prestige, THE SOUL BROTHERHOOD and REELIN’ WITH THE FEELIN’. The former album is probably of the utmost importance due in no small way to the cast assembled, including Blue Mitchell, David "Fathead" Newman, and Grant Green. Kynard’s two originals mix in agreeably with Marv Jenkin’s "Big City," Mitchell’s "Blue Farouq" and Newman’s "Piece o’ Pisces." The latter date is even more of an outwardly attempt at rhythm and blues, Wilton Felder, Joe Pass, and Fender bass legend Carol Kaye getting’ down to the nitty gritty with ease.
It’s much more of a mixed bag that finds me scrambling for a scorecard with the JACK MCDUFF compilation THE SOULFUL DRUMS (Prestige 24256). The first six cuts actually come from the album THE SOULFUL DRUMS OF JOE DUKES WITH THE BROTHER JACK MCDUFF QUARTET. The next seven selections were released as HOT BARBECUE and a final track appeared on two previous compilations. The core group was one of McDuff’s strongest units ever, fronted by saxophonist Red Holloway and featuring drummer Dukes and guitarist George Benson. Of course, Dukes is strongly highlighted on half of the album as the mood goes from the intense swing of "Two Bass Hit" to the boogaloo groove of "Greasy Drums." "Hot Barbeque" is a party item if there ever was one complete with band vocals, but really nothing here should fail to get those feet tapping and those bodies moving.
Back when there really was the opportunity for musicians to make a living by playing in the studios for a diversity of purposes and in a mixture of styles, guitarist BILLY BUTLER was a hot commodity. Utilizing effects pedals and displaying his classical guitar technique, Butler cut a wide swathe with his series of four albums for Prestige. NIGHTLIFE (Prestige 24260) comprises the last two to see reissue, 1969’s GUITAR SOUL and 1970’s YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW. With Seldon Powell sporting a tenor sax with Varitone attachment and organist Sonny Phillips laying down the beat, Butler is at his funkiest on the seven cuts that make up GUITAR SOUL. Nonetheless, "Golden Earings" is a spotlight for some acoustic guitar and the bass guitar is prominently featured on "The Thumb." The selections from YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW also go for broke in the name of variety, the most impressive being the title track’s romp through country blues territory. Highly recommended!
First getting his start with Prestige, JOHNNY "HAMMOND" SMITH went on to become one of the few organists on the Riverside/Jazzland roster before making the scene with Creed Taylor and his Kudu imprimatur during the ‘70s. The compilation OPEN HOUSE (Milestone 47089) completes the series of Riverside albums to see reissue on compact disc. The aptly titled OPEN HOUSE brings on special guests like Thad Jones, Seldon Powell, and Ray Barretto, while A LITTLE TASTE puts trumpeter Virgil Jones and saxophonist Houston Person on the front line. Both sessions are notable for the way that Smith tastefully employs the organ both as a backing instrument and solo vehicle. He never overwhelms the horns and his own displays are chock full of tasty embellishments and other delights. Too long unavailable, it’s a real pleasure to have both of these albums on the scene again and combined on one disc.
Along with Freddie McCoy and Roy Ayers, JOHNNY LYTLE was one of the few vibists able to cross over to the soulful amalgam of jazz and rock sensibilities that were combining as the norm in the ‘60s. His excellent catalog of recordings for Riverside/Jazzland are still under appreciated by all but the most astute jazz followers, but hopefully a new Milestone compilation will help reverse the trend. GOT THAT FEELING/MOON CHILD (Milestone 47039) brings together two dates of the same name spotlighting Lytle’s trio with organist Milt Harris and drummer Peppy Hinnant. This is swinging stuff; just take a listen to "Big John Grady" and you’ll see what I mean! Ray Barretto adds the extra spice on the second set, but it all comes off with finesse and an inspired sense of swing that should tickle the fancy of anyone who digs the vibes.
Our final item is the oddity in that no organist is involved and the groove is more in keeping with the hard bop tradition. You could also say that it might be the most precious of the lot in terms of historical importance. CLIFFORD JORAN recorded a number of impressive albums during the ‘60s, but none quite as significant as the two assembled on MOSAIC (Milestone 47092). 1961’s STARTING TIME is a virtual masterpiece, with Cedar Walton, Kenny Dorham, Wilbur Ware, and Tootie Heath on board. Not only is the playing magnificent, but also the writing is top-notch. We get Dorham’s "Sunrise in Mexico" and "Windmill," Jordan’s "Quittin’ Time" and "Down Through the Years," and Walton’s "Mosaic." Enough said. A STORY TALE is Jordan with alto genius Sonny Redd at the fore and an all-star rhythm section including Ronnie Mathews, Art Davis, and Elvin Jones. Again, the writing is choice and the soloists speak with wisdom and grace. What more could you ask for?