395

Richard "Groove" Holmes: Soul Message

By

Sign in to view read count
Richard "Groove" Holmes: Soul Message
The Hammond B-3 organ, even more than the Fender Rhodes electric piano, simply refuses to surrender to the proponents of digital synthesis, be they manufacturers of keyboards or aging keyboardists looking for less strenuous gigs. The instrument continues to exert a universal appeal, offering a soul-stirring Sunday-morning message at a time and place that suits Saturday-night sinners. All the more reason this RVG edition of Soul Message, a popular recording by one of the instrument's more effective evangelists, is likely to be warmly received among converts and backsliders alike.

In retrospect, the sensation Jimmy Smith created with his up-tempo, head-spinning recording of Dizzy Gillespie's "The Champ" [The Champ (Blue Note, 1956)] was probably disproportionate to the accomplishment of the performance itself. Primarily, the "incredible" one (as he was thereafter billed) made it acceptable to bring the churchy behemoth into sinful dens and, as a bonus for playing challenging bebop, was allowed to retain preaching privileges as well.

Richard "Groove Holmes deftly toes the line between serious jazz and soul/pop worlds on this 1965 recording, which seems targeted at a mainstream audience not in the mood for either teaching or preaching. The familiar songs are given a slight face-lift (Holmes' up-tempo treatment of Erroll Garner's "Misty" became a hit single), while a less familiar tune like Clifford Brown's "Dahoud" settles into such an easy, emphatic groove that even a first-time listener could mistake it for a comfortable old slipper.

It was a sweet strategy for Holmes at the time, though the session barely challenges the talented organist to show his wares. This remaster is likely to appeal above all to those who remember the original recording or to listeners in search of the soundscape that only a Hammond B3 plus Leslie speakers can create. The highlight is the opening blues, "Groove's Groove," an infectious two-beat toe-tapper that heats up into a walking 4/4 swinger, after which the session kind of simmers down.

On the opener Holmes demonstrates the many uses of a plain F7 chord, staying with those four notes for the better part of several choruses. It's a simple device—holding one note for an entire chorus, then adding the fifth, next the seventh, finally using the Leslie to disrupt the still surface with a wave pattern before returning the unwieldy vessel to the becalming decadence of swamp water.

The trick is to sense (and avoid) the tipping point at which repetition becomes boredom and sustained tension becomes irritation. Holmes plays not only his instrument but the average listener to perfection with ample assistance from the soiled, slightly distorted sound of Gene Edwards' gritty guitar, not to mention the organist's own potent, virile bass lines, which are given a big sonic boost on this latest remaster. Jimmie Smith (the drummer) completes the trio with remarkably restrained, tasteful and supportive accompaniment.

In short, Soul Message doesn't offer the kind of preaching that saves souls, but for listeners unmoved by smooth jazz, it provides a soul-soothing alternative.

Track Listing

Groove's Groove; Daahoud; Misty; Song For My Father; The Things We Did Last Summer; Soul Message.

Personnel

Richard "Groove" Holmes: organ; Gene Edwards: guitar; Jimmie Smith: drums.

Album information

Title: Soul Message | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Prestige Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Read I Went This Way
I Went This Way
Rachel Musson
Read HH
HH
Lionel Loueke
Read Dominos
Dominos
Chuck Anderson
Read Secrets & Lies
Secrets & Lies
Jakko M. Jakszyk
Read Ceremonie / Musique
Ceremonie / Musique
What Happens In A Year

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.