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Reuben Wilson: Organ Donor

Douglas Payne By

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Reuben Wilson (born 1935) is best remembered as one of Blue Note's funkiest organists, making five albums for the label between 1968 and 1971 (only Love Bug and the excellent Blue Mode are currently available on CD). He went on to record three more records for Groove Merchant, then he whipped up some disco for smaller labels and by the end of the seventies, he was gigging with the Fatback Band. Wilson disappeared from the scene until groups like Us3, Nas and A Tribe Called Quest started sampling his funky old Blue Note grooves. Now he's part of that groove hierarchy of elder funksmen who tour with funk-jazz revivalists, jams it up with Guru and the Greyboy All Stars and records groove tribs like Organic Grooves (Hip Bop).

Organ Donor is a terrific slice of heavy-metal funk. Recorded in 1996 and just recently released the U.S., it's a great introduction to Wilson's brand of grind. He's got a spare style that belies his instrument's reputation. But he manages to whip off one cool lick after another – each packing a powerful wallop of a punch. It's as if his playing doesn't have to prove anything. He knows what grooves. All eight tracks here are newly recorded, but only two (by my count) are really 'new'. Both "Now's the Time" and "Organ Donor," co-written by Wilson and producer / bassist Chris Parks, have a wildly funky groove. The rest will seem pretty familiar to funk fans, yet all are worth hearing in their new incarnation: "Ronnie's Bonnie" (originally from 1968's On Broadway and, because of US3, the launchpad for Wilson's revival), "Hot Rod" (from 1969's Love Bug, here done up MMW-style), "Orange Peel" (from 1969's Blue Mode ) and the excellent disco-funk of "Got To Get Your Own" (from an old Cadet album of the same name).

Despite a lot of cooks in the kitchen, few players other than Wilson are featured. But all solo well and a few stand out: Bruce Flower's keyboards on "Hot Rod," Melvin Bulter on "Orange Peel" and either Bulter or Mcaslin on "Got To Get Your Own" and Robin Macatangay's guitar on "Trouble Man" and "Organ Donor." This is a great disc for groove lovers, and there ain't one dud in the bunch.

Tracks:Hot Rod; Orange Peel; Now's The Time; Groovin'; Trouble Man; Got To Get Your Own '98; Ronnie's Bonnie; Organ Donor.

Title: Organ Donor | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Jazzateria

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