Gene Ludwig is four square in the traditional school of Hammond B3 organ players and with more than 40 years at the console, he helped to form the tradition. His playing is relaxed, laid back, drenched with a mix of blues and soul. This comes with the realization that the organ quartet can be one of the most pleasurable listening experiences in jazz. With its extremely large range of tone colors and timbres, the organ expresses the full range of human emotions, from the romantic and sultry, through highly charged beat excitement, to soul drenched melancholy. This potential is fully realized by Gene Ludwig and his quartet on this appropriately titled Soul Serenade
. With J. Willis and Don Aliquo sharing tenor sax duties and Ken Karsh kicking with well-placed guitar licks and drum accents by Tom Wendt, this album is falls four square into the organ combo domain of the better known but no more talented, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith.
The play list was put together to bring out the best this group can offer. On "You Don't Know What Love Is", fortified by the heart-rending tenor sax of Don Aliquo, Jr., they drain every ounce of feeling from this tune. In contrast, things pick up with "Freddie the Freeloader". Karsh's guitar gets full opportunity to explore the improvisional possibilities of this Miles Davis classic. The title tune "Soul Serenade" is the organ counterpart of Gloria Lynne's ardent vocal version of 1965 making it a highlight of the album. J. Willis' slightly honking sax gives this cut an authentic R & B flavor. Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night" is the vehicle for Aliquo to flourish his dexterity at running through chord changes. "Duff's Blues" is pure swing with Tom Wendt's drums getting plenty of attention.
Some of the younger B3 Hammond organ practitioners on today's scene would do well to listen to this album to hear how the instrument can sound with its edges rounded a bit. Highly recommended.
Personnel: Gene Ludwig - Organ/Leader; Ken Karsh - Guitar; Tom Wendt - Drums; J. Willis#, Don Aliquo, Jr* - Tenor Saxophone