Based in the blues and gaining popularity early in his career with a 1965 version of "Misty," Groove Holmes was one of the premier artists to employ the Hammond B3 organ. Starting out as a bassist and teaching himself organ as he went along, Holmes found that he could produce a solid bass line with his foot while creating new and interesting sounds at the keyboard. These days, when a trip to your local record store may reveal items in the jazz bins that are a far cry from your true feel for jazz, it's refreshing to know that you're apt to find a divider in front of you with a handful of CDs by Groove Holmes.
He recorded with saxophonists Gene Ammons, Ben Webster, and Houston Person; on Groove's Groove, the organist teams with Person for eight of the ten tracks. The material is from four Muse recordings: 1977's Shippin' Out and Good Vibrations, 1980's Broadway, and 1988's Blues All Day Long. Other artists included in this compilation include trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, drummer Idris Muhammad, percussionist Buddy Caldwell, guitarists Jimmy Ponder, Steve Giordano, & Bob DeVos, and tenor saxophonist Dave Schnitter.
Most of the selections are performed up-tempo with a running bass line provided by the organist's foot. Holmes incorporates teamwork with a variety of sounds. On "Stella By Starlight" the organist trades fours with drummer Muhammad at a blazing tempo, and each is able to say his fill. Monk's "Hackensack" features staccato single-note repeated figures from the organ that, when observed, normally reveal the performer jabbing a key with both his index fingers, alternating, as if he were a lightweight boxer wreaking havoc on his opponent. On the title track, one which features a modified boogie-woogie rhythmic approach with built-in excitement, Holmes sustains with the left hand to add tension, while wailing with the right. Tenor saxophonists Person and Schnitter offer loose, likable solo work and team well with the leader; the latter on "Stella By Starlight" and "Where Or When." Bridgewater's composition "Blues All Day Long" begins with a basic bebop tool, the saxophone-trumpet unison melody, and continues with relaxed and confident solo work by the trumpeter, Person, Ponder, and Holmes. Recommended.