Soul jazz was never in short supply during the mid to late sixties, occupying slots in juke boxes next to Aretha Franklin and James Brown and filling clubs such as Count Basie’s lounge in Harlem. On many a night these small and noisy joints were excellent places to catch master organists such as Richard “Groove” Holmes burn through a set of meaty jam sessions.
On Basie’s Bandstand features seven unreleased tunes from a 1966 live set and is about as basic a set of soul jazz as you can get. Too many practitioners at the time often tried to tinker with a reliable formula by including current pop tunes or more exotic material into the repertoire, neglecting the nuts and bolts formula that made soul jazz so appealing in the first place. Although Holmes enjoyed the occasional ballad in the studio, here in the live setting he sticks to predictable burners like “Night Train” and “Moanin’”, both of which would be familiar to the nightclub audience. There are no ballads or bossas, just straight forward blues, many of which are taken at a fire breathing pace. In fact, the trio seems to be barely hanging on throughout a breakneck “Rifftide”, the audience egging on what amounts to an endurance test for those on the stage. However, Holmes works his best magic at more subdued tempos, allowing him to really dig into the groove with some bluesy vamps and swirls of noise. Although the organist is clearly the main attraction, the little-known sidemen fill out their roles with all the spirit of an understudy given a shot at the lead. Edwards deft guitar work has the brittle sound of early rock’n’roll and he seems hellbent on including every note on the fretboard in every solo.
George Randall, in his recording debut, seems content to beat out the tempo and leave the flash to the other two. After it’s all said and done, Holmes and his two sidekicks deliver a Cliff’s Notes version of the history of soul jazz in one very satisfying club set, expertly captured by Rudy Van Gelder. Although Prestige has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of this type of stuff already, the unreleased material featured on this release stands up with the best of what’s already available.
Track Listing: 1. Indiana 2. Moanin' 3. When I Grow Too Old To Dream 4. Rifftide 5. This Here 6. Nica's Dream 7. Night Train.
Personnel: Richard "Groove" Holmes - organ; Gene Edwards - guitar; George Randall - drums.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.