The years 1965 to 1968, during which which Richard "Groove" Holmes recorded for Prestige, comprised his career's best period, and thus a previously unreleased Prestige recording is very welcome.
Groove Holmes joined the label in August 1965 with one of the jazz organ's finest albums, Soul Message. The following April, Prestige recorded Holmes at Count Basie's nightclub in Harlem. Five songs were taken from the gig and released in time for Christmas as Living Soul. During the summer of 1966 a truncated version of "Misty" taken from the first album was a radio smash. In early 1967, Prestige released a third album by Holmes, included in it the 45 version of "Misty," and gave it that name.
The reissue story for these trio records goes as follows. Fantasy reissued Soul Message and Misty as OJC editions. Living Soul was combined with Holmes' fourth Prestige record, Spicy, on a CD titled after the latter but featuring the cover from the former. For the first time, Fantasy has now made available the remaining seven songs from the April 1966 gig, entitled On Basie's Bandstand. Holmes' style progressed noticeably from the first to the third album, and these tapes provide an interesting look at the midpoint between Soul Message and Misty.
Guitarist Gene Edwards appeared on all of these albums. Drummer George Randall replaced Jimmie Smith on the second and remained with the group for the rest. On this album, Edwards takes a lengthy solo on every track.
The CD opens with a very up-tempo "Back Home Again in Indiana." "Moanin'" is slower, as you can imagine, but nevertheless faster than usual. "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" is relaxed yet swinging. In truth, every song here swings hard. There's never a dull moment.
The most rockin' song is Coleman Hawkins' "Rifftide," whose melody is reminiscent of "Well You Needn't." Taken at breakneck speed, Groove utilizes his trademark hold-the-high-note-forever technique. His footwork on the bass pedals is not to be believed. How did he do it all at once?
The pace returns to normal for "This Here," but the vigor picks up somewhat for the solos. "Nica's Dream" is up-tempo, yet mellow due to the song's harmonies. The album closes with the relatively slow groove of "Night Train."
On Basie's Bandstand is a valuable addition to the Groove Holmes canon, not a day too old after waiting 37 years to finally see the light of day.
Personnel: Richard "Groove" Holmes (organ);
Gene Edwards (guitar);
George Randall (drums).