Aside from extended touring with Sonny Stitt, Arthur Prysock, as well as in a trio co-led with Pat Martino, Hammond B3 Organ master Gene Ludwig’s activities have primarily taken place within the Pittsburgh, Pa. area jazz scene. Although widespread recognition has eluded Ludwig, his command of the instrument and ability to make vital music while sustaining a wicked groove equals his better-known contemporaries.
Soul Serenade, his second recording for the Loose Leaf label, finds Ludwig in excellent form and generously willing to share the spotlight. Guitarist Ken Karsh has a full, open sound, and the blues pervades everything he plays. Tenor saxophonists J. Willis and Don Aliquo Jr. are well schooled in the parameters of soul-jazz, with the latter exhibiting a penchant for executing long, complicated lines. Underneath it all, drummer Tom Wendt lays down a fat yet unobtrusive beat and displays a keen sense of dynamics.
Devoid of clichés and crowd-pleasing fanfare, Ludwig’s solos are the epitome of economy and deep musical knowledge. During his composition “Duff’s Blues,” a medium tempo shuffle, he frequently makes chords scream, and manipulates time at will, playing ahead, on top of, and behind the beat. “Please Send Me Someone To Love” contains some of Ludwig’s finest playing of the session. With Karsh’s ringing notes serving as terse commentary, he states the melody reverently, then immediately goes into blues overdrive with a potent combination of sustained chords and single note sallies.
(Available through Loose Leaf Music Corp. P.O. Box 234, Deal, NJ 07723)
Personnel: Gene Ludwig--Hammond B3 Organ; Ken Karsh--Guitar; Tom Wendt--drums; J. Willis--Tenor Saxophone (Tracks 1, 4); Don Aliquo Jr.--Tenor Saxophone (Tracks 2, 6, 7, 8).