222

Jimmy McGriff: Straight Up

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
Jimmy McGriff: Straight Up

Despite all-star accompanists and sterling production, organist Jimmy McGriff's Milestone output (since 1983) has more of a lounge-combo sound than the wicked blues he cut for Sue in 1962-65 or the heady grooves of his Groove Merchant and LRC records of the 1970s. Still, Straight Up, the organ grinder's eleventh Milestone recording, occasionally moves out of the lounge and offers its share of interesting moments.

Here, McGriff stacks the front line with the double-barreled reeds of regular associate David "Fathead" Newman and (in an inspired move), Frank Wess. Rodney Jones (a ringer for the jazzier George Benson) and Wayne Boyd are on guitar and Bernard Purdie mans the drums.

The highlight of the set is Newman's title cut, a slow, dark, funky blues featuring both hornmen wailing on flute with signature commentary by the leader. The obligatory funk track — the Isley Brothers classic, "It's Your Thing" — starts off right. But at nine minutes, the vamp goes on a little longer than necessary. McGriff is certainly in his gospel-blues element here, though, and offers wonderful, heated commentary on his Hammond X-B3, a sort of synthesized organ that provides richer sound potential and, in McGriff's hands, emits a likeable, identifiable sound.

The group, steered, more than led by McGriff, goes back to the lounge for the Basie-like blues of McGriff's "Doin My Thing," Jones's "Blues For The Baby Grand," Newman's "Brother Griff" and the less-than-thrilling arrangements of standards "It Had To Be You" and "Oleo." But despite the sometimes corny atmosphere, each tune still contains at least one interesting solo.

Straight Up isn't perfect. But the variety on display here is nice and the ageless organ master proves he can still grind with a style that's worth hearing.

Songs:Doin' My Thing; It Had To Be You; Straight Up; Blues For The Baby Grand; It's Your Thing; Dream; Brother Griff; Oleo.

Players:Jimmy McGriff: Hammond X-B3 organ; David "fathead" Newman, Frank Wess: tenor sax, flute; Rodney Jones, Wayne Boyd: guitar; Bernard Purdie: drums.

Title: Straight Up | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: HighNote


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "LifeCycle" CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "The Traveller's Tale" CD/LP/Track Review The Traveller's Tale
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Screen Sounds" CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by John Kelman
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Twin Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Twin Talk
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 19, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.