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Gerry Wiggins: Wiggin' Out

Derek Taylor By

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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.


Track Listing: Wiggin

Personnel: Gerrry Wiggins- Hammond Organ; Harold Land- tenor saxophone; Jackie Mills- drums.

| Record Label: Hi Fi Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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