The Hammond B3 organ combo has always seemed like a working man's jazz group. Drums/guitar/organ groups, often with a saxophone, was a brand of music brought to popularity in the mid-fifties by Jimmy Smith, with interest in the B3 soul jazz sound exploding in the sixties with the work of Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff, and the establishment of organ rooms in centers of working class cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, and Gene Ludwig's home turf, Pittsburgh.
Ludwig, who passed away in July, 2010, enjoyed a fifty-year career as an organist, switching from piano to the Hammond B3 in 1957 after hearing Jimmy Smith. Ludwig went on to record albums for Atlantic, Prestige, Muse and Blue Leaf Records, and spent a formative year working and recording with saxophonist Sonny Stitt.
Love Notes of Cole Porter is Ludwig's swan song. Cole Porter, with his urbane songwriting, classy show tunes and huge contribution to The Great American Songbook, seems an unlikely subject for an organ combo groupa sound known more for its down-home soulfulness than its uptown sophisticationbut Ludwig and crew dispel any doubts as to their ability to pull it off on the opener, one of Porter's most-covered songs: "What is This Thing Called Love?" Ludwig's organ breathes a frosty breezea cold mist wafting from an open freezerwhile saxophonist Lou Stellute sizzles like bacon on a hot iron pan. p>The group covers some of Porter's best-known tunes: "I Love You," "Begin the Beguine," "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," with a smooth-flowing organ combo cool. The group also goes after a couple of lesser-known but equally fine songs like "Rosalie" and "Why Can't You Behave," the latter a trio effort featuring particularly tasty guitar from Mark Strickland.
Love Notes of Cole Porter proves itself an outstanding bookend to Gene Ludwig's half-century career.
What Is This Thing Called Love; Everything I Love; I Love You; Begin The Beguine; You'd Be So Nice To COme Home To; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Rosalie; Why Can't You Behave?; Night And Day; Dream Dancing.
Gene Ludwig: organ; Mark Strickland: guitar; Lou Stellute: tenor saxophone (1-3, 5, 8); Thomas Wendt: drums (1, 3, 5, 7, 9); Billy Kuhn: drums (2, 4, 6, 8, 10).
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