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Charles Earland


Charles Earland came into his own at the tail end of the great 1960s wave of soul-jazz organists, gaining a large following and much airplay with a series of albums for the the Prestige label. While heavily indebted to Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, Earland came armed with his own swinging, technically agile, light-textured sound on the keyboard and one of the best walking-bass pedal techniques in the business. Though not an innovative player in his field, Earland burned with the best of them when he was on. Earland actually started his musical experiences surreptitiously on his father's alto sax as a kid, and when he was in high school, he played baritone in a band that also featured fellow Philadelphians Pat Martino on guitar, Lew Tabackin on tenor, and yes, Frankie Avalon on trumpet. After playing in the Temple University band, he toured as a tenor player with McGriff for three years, became infatuated with McGriff's organ playing, and started learning the Hammond B-3 at intermission breaks. When McGriff let him go, Earland switched to the organ permanently, forming a trio with Martino and drummer Bobby Durham. He made his first recordings for Choice in 1966, then joined Lou Donaldson for two years (1968-69) and two albums before being signed as a solo artist to Prestige. Earland's first album for Prestige, 'Black Talk!', became a best-selling classic of the soul-jazz genre; a surprisingly effective cover of the Spiral Starecase's pop / rock hit 'More Today Than Yesterday' from that LP received saturation airplay on jazz radio in 1969. He recorded eight more albums for Prestige, one of which featured a young unknown Philadelphian named Grover Washington, Jr, then switched to Muse before landing contracts with Mercury and Columbia. By this time, the organ trio genre had gone into eclipse, and in the spirit of the times, Earland acquired some synthesizers and converted to pop/disco in collaboration with his wife, singer / songwriter Sheryl Kendrick. There followed a succession of successful jazz / soul / funk albums including 'Odyssey' in 1976, featuring 'Intergalactic Love Song', 'The Great Pyramid', featuring 'Driftin' and perhaps his best remembered album from this period 'Revelation', featuring the Randy Muller (Brass Construction) produced 'Let The Music Play'. He moved into the Eighties with 'Coming To You Live' featuring 'The Woman In You' and the title track. There were further CBS outings with 'Street Themes' and 'Earland's Jam'. In 1983 he released an odd twelve inch single entitled 'It's A Doggie Boogie, Baby', popular on the UK dancefloors. Sheryl Kendrick's death from sickle-cell anaemia in 1985 left Earland desolate, and he stopped playing for a while, but a gig at the Chickrick House on Chicago's South Side in the late '80's brought him out of his grief and back to the Hammond B-3. Two excellent albums in the old soul-jazz groove for Milestone followed, and the '90's found him returning to the Muse label. Earland died of heart failure on December 11th, 1999, the morning after playing a gig in Kansas City, he was 58.


Article: Album Review

Black Gold Orchestra: Genesis

Read "Genesis" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Two years after it was formed by drummer Larry Wilson in 2021, the impressive Atlanta, Georgia-based Black Gold Orchestra has released its debut album, Genesis, a handsome medley of original compositions by Wilson and saxophonist Frank Houston complementing others by Cedar Walton, Horace Silver, Charles Earland and OutKast (a.k.a. Andre Benjamin). Even though ...


Article: Album Review

Prime Vintage: Introducing Prime Vintage

Read "Introducing Prime Vintage" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Prime Vintage is an Indiana-based organ trio led by Steve Snyder and including guitarist Joel Tucker and drummer Kenny Phelps. Introducing Prime Vintage is the group's first recording, and a fine one it is. Seven of the album's eight engaging numbers are original compositions by Snyder; the other is Leo Nocentelli's funky “Message ...


Article: Book Review

Philadelphia Jazz

Read "Philadelphia Jazz" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Philadelphia Jazz Suzanne Cloud and Diane Turner 127 pages ISBN 978-1-4671-0784-6 Images of America Arcadia Publishing 2022 Philadelphia longs to be known as a jazz town, a city distinguished by its major contribution to the jazz legacy. There is a good ...


Article: Liner Notes

Lou Donaldson: Say It Loud

Read "Lou Donaldson: Say It Loud" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the sound of jazz could be heard lingering in the smoky corners of neighborhood bars in every major city from New York to Los Angeles. These ghetto hangouts were on what was often called the 'chitlin' circuit,' a network of predominantly black operated venues that ...


Article: Interview

Kevin “Bujo” Jones: Jazz as a Part of The Continuum

Read "Kevin “Bujo” Jones: Jazz as a Part of The Continuum" reviewed by Jane Kozhevnikova

Jazz musicians can be found working in any other music styles, probably because jazz gives great flexibility and freedom of expression that can be easily applied to any music. Kevin “Bujo" Jones, a percussionist born in Englewood, New Jersey, and residing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, feels equally comfortable playing jazz and non-jazz. Moreover, he does not ...


Article: Interview

Joe Donofrio: Remembering Pat Martino

Read "Joe Donofrio: Remembering Pat Martino" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Guitarist Pat Martino passed away on November 1, 2021 after an extended bout of respiratory illness. As we approach the first anniversary of his passing, his long-time manager and dear friend Joe Donofrio and the South Jersey Jazz Society are putting together an exciting four days in the New Jersey coastal town of Somers Point, consisting ...


Article: Album Review

Atis Andersons Organ Trio: Organic City

Read "Organic City" reviewed by Mark Corroto

With Hammond organ trios in the 21st century, everything old is new again, except in Latvia where Atis Andersons presents the very first Latvian Hammond organ trio recording in that country's history. Kudos to Andersons, guitarist Āris Ozols, and drummer Andris Buiķis, because Organic City fits perfectly into the traditions of soul, funk, and rock. Their ...


News: Video / DVD

Backgrounder: Charles Earland

Backgrounder: Charles Earland

Maybe you're cooking today for the holiday weekend. Or perhaps you're driving a long distance to attend a family gathering or visit the house of a friend. Or you may just be going for a long bike ride or working over the long weekend. How does three hours of uninterrupted Charles Earland sound to you? I ...


Article: Album Review

James Gaiters' Soul Revival: Understanding Reimagined

Read "Understanding Reimagined" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci

Anyone struck with a sense of deja vu by this recording, is not alone. Even without reference to John Patton's 1968 album Understanding , the feel of the late '60s and early '70s is overwhelming. Whether it is called Soul Jazz or funk, it has strong echoes of an era when the Hammond B-3 was king. ...


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