Charlie Earland: Black Drops (2002)
Charlie Earland was one of the few jazz artists able to make a living once rock’n’roll took hold over popular taste. Many musicians tried to court the new rock audience to earn a living, but Earland was one of the few truly successful ones, finding a common ground between his soul jazz roots and rock ‘n’ roll boogie. Although not as good as Black Talk, Black Drops is still a great ride. The low spots are the attempts to turn recent pop hits into new standards; “Sing A Simple Song” rides a repetitive groove for far too long and “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” will always sound like elevator music, no matter who covers it. However, the group generates some serious heat on the more jazz influenced numbers. Coltrane’s “Lazy Bird” is a frenetic organ jam with tricky changes that everyone tackles with ease and force. “Letha”, on the other hand, is based on a catchy two chord vamp and is all blistering fretwork and punchy horns. As with all organ combo records, the guitar and the sax play pivotal roles, and Parker and Heath are well up to the occasion-Heath in particular showing a free jazz influence he picked up somewhere along the way. More of the hard-hitting jams and less of the throwaway pop tunes would have made this album a forced to be reckoned with. At any rate, Earland showed on albums like Black Drops that the Hammond B-3, a staple of the sixties, could find a niche in the next decade.
Track Listing: 1. Sing A Simple Song 2. Don't Say Goodbye 3. Lazy Bird 4. Letha 5. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head 6. Buck Green.
Personnel: Charlie Earland-organ; Jimmy Heath-saxes; Maynard Parker-guitar; Virgil Jones-trumpet; Jimmy Turner-drums; Clayton Pruden-trombone.