Sharing a similar background with many of his fellow organ grinders Wiggins’ first instrument was piano. On this disc he sounds somewhat intoxicated by the sonic possibilities available to him on the electric keyboard and as a result his approach isn’t immediately endearing and takes some getting used to. Favoring a syrupy sustain and an almost roller rink-like echo his sound often borders on the bombastic. Even his less cluttered lines are imbued with a whistling reverberation that sometimes slips into the excessive. As a result of all the liberties he takes on the keys his pedal bass runs (which for me are one of the most enjoyable components of the classic Hammond sound) frequently get subsumed or are even at times totally neglected. It’s difficult to fault the man for wanting to experiment on his instrument, and his animated investigations are admirable, just not always successful. If you like your B-3 sound heavy on effects then you will probably dig Wiggins’ style, but if a cleaner method that places more emphasis on technique is more to your liking you may be disappointed by his work on this disc.
Fortunately he’s in good company with Land on tenor and the reliable, if not particularly distinctive, traps work of Mills. Land takes the space afforded by the sparse instrumentation to blow some truly smoking runs and never fails to fashion a soulful groove with his horn. The title track opens with Wiggins’ laying down staccato lines in unison with Land’s fluid tenor. Mills keeps stiff time behind the two before Land opens things up with a protracted swinging solo that is his first of many on the disc. “Teach Me Tonight” slows the momentum to a languid crawl and Wiggins’ wisely eases up on the volume and crafts a solo that strokes the melody with a surprisingly gentle touch. Land enters soon after for another soulful turn before the three players meet, converse briefly, and take the tune out. By the time of “A Night In Tunisia” Wiggins’ has cooled out a bit and his playing benefits from the new found restraint; though there are still flashes of his former exorbitance in the closing choruses. Mills’ drums don’t exactly pass muster on this highly percussive tune, but he still manages to keep a rolling beat for Land to work with. On Wiggins’ “Yes, Dove” the trio moves into mellower waters, but the organist still manages to teeter on the precipice of excess in his playing. With the reading of “Without A Song” the trio builds an introductory Latin-tinged theme statement before diving into the tune proper. It’s a nice closer to an otherwise checkered date and features some of Wiggins’ most convincing playing on the entire disc. Whether this session will be an enjoyable diversion or a disenchanting letdown is largely dependent on where your tastes lie in organ combos.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.