For aficionados of the Hammond B-3 organ trio, the name of Bob DeVos is immediately recognizable. DeVos has been the guitarist of choice for B-3 luminaries such as Richard “Groove” Holmes, Charles “The Mighty Burner” Earland, and Jimmy McGriff for over three decades. In addition, he's worked with saxophonists Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, David "Fathead" Newman, and Houston Person, as well as singers Etta Jones and Irene Reid. Nor is DeVos solely wed to the soul-jazz genre; he is currently a member of bassist Ron McClure’s innovative quartet, and he regularly works with bassist Mike Richmond in a duo format.
DeVos first met Gene Ludwig in the late ‘60s. Still in his teens, touring with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and just discovering the jazz guitar, DeVos went to the Key Club in Newark to hear Pat Martino. Martino’s Hammond organist that night was a fellow from Pittsburgh by the name of Ludwig. DeVos went back to hear them every night that he wasn’t on the road.
Not long thereafter, DeVos first heard Billy James live with Don Patterson at the Stearington House in nearby Montclair, and on records with Sonny Stitt. James had arrived on the jazz scene in the mid-50's with Lionel Hampton and has been the drummer of choice for some of the toughest tenors in the business: Booker Ervin, James Moody, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Eddie Harris, and Houston Person. DeVos’ relationships with both Ludwig and James were rekindled recently, resulting in an on-going series of gigs at The Blue Note in New York City. This is the second of three CDs anticipated to result from that association, one led by each of the three musicians.
Here are three bluesy, simpatico jazzmen just playing their hearts out, and a more relaxed and relaxing outing you can hardly imagine. All selections are well known and were chosen by DeVos, except for Tucker’s funky “Coming Home Baby,” a song Herbie Mann made famous, suggested by producer Jack Kreisberg of Groove GUITAR. Wayne Shorter’s “Tom Thumb” is taken as a bossa nova; Burt Bacharach’s ”The Look of Love” a down-home shuffle; Herbie Hancock’s “Driftin’” a bluesy amble; and Percy Mayfield’s “Prayin’ for Your Return” an even slower, 6/8, “signifyin’” blues. Edward Redding’s “End of a Love Affair” is taken up-tempo, while on Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” the groove gets a little funky. Monk’s “Round Midnight” and Arlen’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” finish out the set in elegant style.