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Charles Earland: Jazz Organ Summit

Joel Roberts By

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One night last spring in Chicago, four masters of the Hammond B-3 organ - Charles Earland, Lonnie Smith, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, and Jimmy McGriff - got together for a one-time-only showcase. The results are captured here on a must-buy album for jazz organ fans.

Each performer is featured in a brief solo segment, before all four join together for a funky, jam-session finale. Earland lives up to his nickname ("The Burner") with a sizzling version of the pop hit "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday." McGriff, the king of the organ blues, gets the crowd screaming with a pair of soul / blues improvisations. Dr. Lonnie Smith, usually a funk / groove player, offers an extended take on the standard "Cherokee."

It is Johnny "Hammond" Smith, though, who delivers the evening's most poignant performance. Seriously ill with cancer, he made a special trip from his home in California to take part in this concert, which would turn out to be his last. He died just 11 days later. Listen closely to his emotional reading of the ballads "This Masquerade is Over" and "Summertime" for an example of dignity and artistry in jazz.


Title: Jazz Organ Summit | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Cannonball Records


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