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Richard "Groove" Holmes: Spicy!

Douglas Payne By

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Organist Richard "Groove" Homes (1931-91) recorded prolifically over three decades for Pacific Jazz, Loma, Blue Note, Groove Merchant, Flying Dutchman, Versatile and Muse. But it was the dozen records he made for Prestige between 1965 and 1968 that scored him the biggest hits of his career ("Misty") and some of his most memorable music. On this collection, his second in the "Legends of Acid Jazz" series, two of his 1966 sessions are paired up: his third Prestige LP ( Living Soul ) and, I think, his fifth ( Spicy! ).

The first five songs here originally made up the LP, Living Soul, a live recording capturing Holmes's trio at Count Basie's night club. An additional 14 titles were taped during this performance, but unfortunately and unexplainably, they remain unreleased. Groove cooked live and, with the possible exception of a light takes on "The Girl from Ipanema" and a livelier than expected "Over the Rainbow," this is one expertly delivered program. Holmes knew how to work a groove, and he plays well to his audience. He's on throughout - especially on highlights like Gerald Wilson's "Blues For Yna Yna" and "Gemini" — aided by Gene Edward's smooth guitar runs and George Randall's fatback trap work.

The studio session that resulted in Spicy! boasts the tasty contributions of guitarist Boogaloo Joe Jones - alternating with the surprisingly Scofield-like guitar of Gene Edwards - in his second Prestige recording (not the first, as the liner notes indicate). Groove goes for even more popular than usual fare here ("1-2-3," "Never on Sunday" and "If I Had a Hammer"), but fortunately the unreleased "Teach Me Tonight" (a regrettable Jimmy McGriff staple) is not included on this program. The intensity which launched Groove's cover of "Misty" into such a huge hit is thoroughly in evidence throughout this smoking set and Holmes is firmly in his element during this poppy, but cooking session. A welcome addition to a great organist's too-thin catalog.

Songs:Living Soul; Blues for Yna Yna; The Girl from Ipanema; Gemini; Over the Rainbow; If I Had a Hammer; Never on Sunday; Manhã de Carnaval; 1-2-3; Boo-D-Doo; Work Song; When Lights Are Low; Old Folks.

Players:Richard "Groove" Holmes: organ; Gene Edwards, Boogaloo Joe Jones: guitar; George Randall, Richard Landrum: drums

Title: Spicy! | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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