It's About Time
underscores an inspirational story. Keyboardist/organist Mel Davis was an aspiring young pianist in Paterson, New Jersey hoping to gain fame and fortune on the Hammond B-3 organ. 24 years ago, an industrial accident changed everything when a finger was ripped from his left hand. Davis endured eight years of rehabilitation and seven operations before he could approach the keyboard again. He had to relearn the basics using the opposite approach of what he'd been originally taught. Inasmuch as his finger control was less than normal, the use of the Hammond organ allowed Davis to rebound and express his musical ideas.
Guitar legend George Benson introduced Davis to bandleader Lonnie Youngblood, who employed the organist for a steady sixteen-year period. Since then, Davis has entertained audiences across the world. He performed at the 1998 and 1999 Newark (New Jersey) Jazz Festivals with such organ luminaries as Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff and Joey DeFrancesco. Ironically, Benson remembered Davis' techniques and employed them on his own albums Love Remembers (Warner Brothers, 1993) and Standing Together (GRP, 1998).
It's About Time! offers a view of the soul jazz that was popular during the late 1960s, when organ combos were frequently heard on record and in clubs. Davis' Hammond B3 and acoustic piano are augmented by a group which includes smooth jazz guitarists Ronny Jordan and Mark Bowers. The horns (Freddie Hendrix's trumpet/flugelhorn and Bruce Williams' saxophone) add coloration to the group's sound, as does the use of drums and percussion (including tabla and congas).
In his music Davis pays homage to the R&B/jazz of previous eras and also sings on four tracks, including Billy Preston's "Will It Go Round In Circles" and the Sinatra-associated piece "It Was A Very Good Year." The tunes on the album also include Davis originals and compositions from the Jazz Crusaders, Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith/Wes Montgomery.
While this album is more nostalgic than innnovative in nature, the story behind it is inspirational.
Personnel: Mel Davis: Hammond B3 organ, motif, acoustic piano; Ronny Jordan, Mark Bowers: guitar; Freddie Hendrix:
trumpet, flugelhorn; Bruce Williams: saxophone; Tom E.: tabla; Butch Johnson: congas; Dave Moore, G. Earl
Brice, Charlie Haynes, George Macheda: drums.