Reuben Wilson: A Groovy Situation & Boogaloo to the Beastie Boys


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You can safely bet that a Reuben Wilson record will be a jumping situation. These two sessions offer up grooves that reflect the popular rhythms of their eras.

Reuben Wilson
A Groovy Situation
Blue Note-Water Music
2004 (1970)

A Groovy Situation comes from 1970 and features alto saxophonist Earl Turbinton, guitarist Eddie Diehl and drummer Harold White with organist Wilson. It is a very enjoyable encounter with the '70s funk: finely crafted tunes; hard-driving rhythms (and not from a drum machine); hot, yet thoughtful, solos; and variations in mood from tune to tune.

In such a pop-laden context, Wilson is a model of restraint. He does not overplay and he does not resort to open up the organ full bore to create walls of sound. Rather, his solos and accompaniment are organic to the songs. He builds his solo on "If You Let Me Make Love to You Then Why Can't I Touch You" patiently, riding on White's backbeat before giving way.

Chart-topping hits like the title tune, "Happy Together" (the most straight ahead treatment here, all involved at their most expansive) and Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed Delivered, I'm Yours" are explored, not merely covered.

Various Artists
Boogaloo to the Beastie Boys
Scufflin' Records

Boogaloo to the Beastie Boys reflects a 21st century approach and rhythmic sensibility. Its grooves run deep, yet with the focus so much on the rhythmic aspect of the music, harmony and melody take a backseat. There is hardly a bad note played on this session, especially the moody "So What'cha Want." Wilson and his cohorts Andrew Beals (saxophones), LaFrae Olivia Sci (drums), Don Munro (guitar as well as producer), and Bernie Worrell (Fender Rhodes) mine fine improvisations on "Cooky Puss." But after a while, it begins to wear. The lack of a more nuanced melody and harmony becomes pronounced, even when there are variations in tempo and mood.

Herein lies the dilemma that jazz faces today when approaching hip-hop. The music is so infectious that it is hard to sit still when the band really catches fire. But an entire session of rap-based material can grow thin, even when it is played this well.

The good news remains, however, that Reuben Wilson's ears are wide open, attuned not only to the jazz eras that nurtured him, but also to the possibilities that continue to unfold in modern music. No matter the setting, Wilson's situation is always a groovy one.

A Groovy Situation

Tracks: 1. While the World Lies Waiting (5:13); 2. Sweet Tooth (6:55); 3. (If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can't I Touch You? (6:20); 4. A Groovy Situation (8:47); 5. Happy Together (5:32); 6. Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours (6:20).
Personnel: Eddie Diehl: Guitar; Earl Turbinton: Alto and Soprano Saxophones; Harold White: Drums; Reuben Wilson: Organ.

Boogaloo to the Beastie Boys

Tracks: 1. Namaste (5:42); 2. Something's Got to Give (7:13); 3. Sabotage (5:59); 4. Shadrah (7:57); 5. Brass Monkey (6:30); 6. So What'cha Want (6:24);; 7. Hey Ladies (5:20); 8. Intergalactic (6:50); 9. Egg Raid on Mojo (7:39); 10. Shake Your Rump (9:31); 11. Cooky Puss.
Personnel: Reuben Wilson: Hammond Organ; Andrew Beals: saxophones; LaFrae Olivia Sci: drums; Don Munro: guitar; Bernie Worrell: Fender Rhodes.


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