Charles Earland: Front Burner


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Many fans of organist Charles Earland favor his late 1960s and early '70s recordings, such as Black Talk!, Black Drops and Living Black! And rightfully so, since Earland's leadership albums from this period burnished his “Mighty Burner" moniker. But don't neglect his later period.

Case in point, Front Burner. Recorded in June 1988 for Milestone and produced by Bob Porter, the album featured Virgil Jones (tp), Bill Easley (ts,sop), Charles Earland (org), Bobby Broom (g), Buddy Williams (d) and Frank Colon (cga). The album's groove is sensational, and Earland is at his peak. Also smoking are Virgil Jones, Bobby Broom and Bill Easley. 

The Philadelphia organist was a hard worker. When he wasn't recording, he toured extensively throughout his career. Given how many clubs he played, it's a shame more video hasn't surfaced of him in action. As a soul-jazz artist, Earland did a wonderful job fusing riffing horns with the excitement and drama of his Hammond B-3 and soloists. He also had a shrewd ear for pop, leveraging select radio hits into funky, gospel-tinged swingers. Earland also was famous for his rich pedal work and big builds that hit a crescendo and exploded with a thrilling keyboard release. Front Burner remains a favorite.

Charles Earland died in 1999 at age 58.

JazzWax clips: Here's Charles Earland's Mom and Dad...

Here's Earland's I Will Always Love Her...

Bonus: Here's Earland leading an organ summit with Lonnie Smith, Johnny “Hammond" Smith and Jimmy McGriff...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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