222

Jimmy McGriff: Straight Up

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count


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.

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Purple Patio" CD/LP/Track Review Purple Patio
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 27, 2016
Read "Westering Home" CD/LP/Track Review Westering Home
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Paris
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Terre II" CD/LP/Track Review Terre II
by Tyran Grillo
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Seasons 1-4 Live" CD/LP/Track Review Seasons 1-4 Live
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Sureste" CD/LP/Track Review Sureste
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!