Tutti Flutti

BLUNDERIN’ – DOUG WEBB

Jazz bars. Remember? Of course. Fondly and bittersweetly. The vibe created by the artists, fans enjoying warm and surprising sounds, crowded at the bar like so many thirsty catfish. One more beer, please. Patience. They will be back. Artists, catfish, beers and the like.

I remember thoroughly enjoying a performance by saxophonist and flute player Doug Webb at the tail end of 2019 in Pavlov, The Hague. The unsung West Coast hero was in The Netherlands to record an album with bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke: In Holland. The evening preceding the recording session, Webb participated in a blowing session with Beets, Ineke, pianist Rein de Graaff and guitarist/organizer/emcee Dan Nicholas.

Killer session. I distinctly remember Webb and De Graaff negotiating repertoire. At one time, Webb suggested Chelsea Bridge. De Graaff said ok and proceeded with a lovely introduction. Killer version. Calling a tune and acting upon it is one of the wonders of real jazz and easily taken for granted. It takes the best of the lot to pull off compositions like Chelsea Bridge and I have not forgotten my satisfaction and delight.

Anyway, during intermission I got to talking with Beets (who apart from bassist is also a record engineer and music shop owner and was tired as a dog, sipping his third espresso), Ineke and Webb. Over the sounds of a Grant Green tune, the genial multi-reed player told me that one of the endeavors that he looked forward to in The Netherlands besides recording was a visit to the village of Grollo out there in the province. Webb said that he was going to visit a ‘fruit shaker’.

Sounded out of the box but perhaps not entirely unusual to me. Webb hails from Los Angeles in liberal California. He sports a ponytail. Probably a health freak in search of innovative brews. Lots of sporty and spiritual types in jazz, contrary to myth. Maynard Ferguson was a yoga buff as early as the ‘50s. Still, I was at a loss for words and said, “Fruit? That’s cool. By the way, Grollo is a legendary place. Birthplace of Holland’s finest blues group Cuby & The Blizzards featuring future visual artist and rock&roll icon Herman Brood.”

Beets woke up. “He probably is not familiar with either Cuby or Brood.”

Which proves that three espressos is brain food of higher quality than three pints of Westmalle Triple. On my way home, I kept thinking, man that’s a way out trip, travelin’ from the USA to get some fruit in Holland. Anyway, soon after I read somewhere that Webb had visited Eva Kingma, one of the best ‘flute makers’ around today, in Grollo, Drenthe.

A true crackerjack in her field and I’m sure that Doug Webb got a good taste.

But it’s a world away from apples and oranges.

knimes acoustic group Adventures In Improvised Music (Envelope 2021)

NEW RELEASE – KNIMES

Knimes has found a delicate balance between experiment and tunefulness.

knimes acoustic group - Adventures In Improvised Music

Personnel

Matthijs de Ridder (drums), Jose Cervera (alto saxophone, flute), Yannis Marinos (trombone), Ignacio Santoro (bass)

Recorded

on March 15 & 16, 2020 at Moon Music, Roermond

Released

as Envelope 001 in 2021

Track listing

Side A:
3:12
A Journey Through Sound And Colors
D.C.
Clean
Side B:
The Haunt
Be A Vampire
Waltz For Gloria
Birth Of Joy


Sweet and sour neo-bop, film noir miniatures and mesmerizing, gritty free-wheeling episodes. You will find all of this and then some on Adventures In Improvised Music, brainchild of Dutch drummer Matthijs de Ridder in cooperation with the Spanish alto saxophonist Jose Cervera, Greek trombonist Yannis Marinos and Italian bassist Ignacio Santoro. Ridder met his international crew while he was project manager at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and his knimes acoustic group (De Ridder also leads knimes electric group) made a point of not only presenting its debut album as download but releasing it on vinyl as well.

The LP concept is appropriate. Adventures In Improvised Music refers to classic post-bop and avant-leaning jazz without compromising its own organic and completely 21st century vibe. Moreover, it spawns a refreshing and talented composer of diverse repertoire. Among others, De Ridder created the sassy hard bop tune 3.12, underlined by polyrhythm and definitely not in need of a coat of paint and the melancholic homage to his grandfather, D.C. The Haunt’s sultry theme and loping bounce accompanies the steps of the long-legged femme fatale that fatefully clashes with a hard-boiled detective in the asphalt jungle. Any movie with Lauren Bacall will do, y’all.

De Ridder cleverly works around the beat of Waltz For Gloria, which is sweetened by Cervera’s elegant flute playing. A hip Afrobeat rhythm underscores the boppish Be A Vampire line, which swings with increasing tension. Hypnotizing pulses and rough-tough and sweeping simultaneous improvisations of sax and trombone mark the moody textures of A Journey Through Sound And Color and Birth Of Joy. As if George Russell re-arranged Radiohead’s Kid A, which is totally cool apart from the fact that you would wish for a less flat and more fat and resonant sound production of the bass of Santoro, who no mistaking is excellent and propulsive throughout.

One striking aspect of Adventures is the non-virtuosic approach of Cervera and Marinos, whose bittersweet and ebullient outings signify a longing to emulate the forthright emotions of the human voice. Muscles are flexed but expression is key and Cervera positively leans towards the sound of Jackie McLean, while Marinos sounds like a cross between Grachan Monchur and Wayne Henderson. Their combined inflections reach a zenith during the clarion call theme of the crispy Clean, a cookin’ tune that like all of knimes’ efforts convincingly obviates the need for piano harmony.

Check out the teaser of Adventures In Improvised Music on YouTube here.

Buy the digital or LP format of Adventures In Improvised Music on Bandcamp here.

Gene Ludwig - This Is Gene Ludwig

Gene Ludwig This Is Gene Ludwig (GeLu Records 1965)

No doubt one of the finest disciples of Jimmy Smith, organist Gene Ludwig tried to make his mark with This Is Gene Ludwig in 1965.

 

Gene Ludwig - This Is Gene Ludwig

Personnel

Gene Ludwig (organ), Jerry Byrd (guitar), Randle Gelispie (drums)

Recorded

in 1965 in Pittsburgh

Released

as GL-1415 in 1965

Track listing

Side A:
Night In Tunesia
We’ll Be Together Again
Something Happens To Me
Side B:
Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
Summertime
No Blues


Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania had a large community of German descent. Immigrants from Germany entered the region at the start of the 20th century, where they often found work in the steel mills, competing with the flood of Afro-Americans from the rural South. Art Blakey is from Pittsburgh. Organist Gene Ludwig hails from Twin Rock, Pennsylvania and grew up in Steel City, which developed a strong base of black music clubs. At the Hurricane club, Ludwig saw a performance of the daddy of modern organ jazz, Jimmy Smith.

Gene Ludwig made no bones about it. He was hooked. In the liner notes to This Is Gene Ludwig, he says: “Jimmy Smith is my soul and my inspiration.” With evident zest, Ludwig pursued his instincts on his third album as a leader, recorded independently by Ludwig for “GeLu” Records in Pittsburgh in 1965 in the company of guitarist Jerry Byrd and drummer Randle Gelispie, at that point a cooperative unit for already six years.

This, indeed, is serious organ combo stuff. The trio gets into a relaxed groove on Something Happens To Me, Summertime and Miles Davis’ No Blues, while Ludwig balladeers nicely on We’ll Be Together Again. Undoubtedly, the hottest meal consists of Night In Tunesia and Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, bop tune and bop vehicle respectively, that has Ludwig burnin’ down the house with ever-growing intensity. Jerry Byrd, who also is featured on Don Patterson’s Satisfaction, finds a fiery balance between bop and blues. Randle Gelispie regularly adds some fuel to the fire.

Below par production, especially the distant sound of Byrd, is unfortunate. In hindsight, you would wish for Ludwig to have been recorded at least once in Rudy van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs studio. Or Bell Sound. Or Ter-Mar. Surely, Ludwig would have made an even better impression.

Two albums preceded This Is Gene Ludwig: Organ Out Loud and The Educational Sounds Of Gene Ludwig. Ludwig played on Sonny Stitt’s Night Letter and cooperated with guitar wizard Pat Martino, as can be heard on the 2016 High Note release Young Guns 1968-70. Good company. Ludwig’s next stop was Now’s The Time on Muse in 1980. While settling as a respected performer in Pittsburgh and on the East Coast, Ludwig recorded for smaller independent labels in the ‘00s.

Again, from the liner notes, we have Ludwig answering matter-of-factly the question if there have been any financial rewards so far: “No.” Not enough room at the top. This however can’t hide the fact that Ludwig was an outstanding exponent of modern organ jazz.

Gene Ludwig passed away in 2010.

Melvin Rhyne

YOU TUBE – MELVIN RHYNE

Sharing a rare clip on YouTube of organist Melvin Rhyne, see here. Catch Rhyne in the studio in Wisconsin in 1993 with saxophonist Mark Ladley. I have to thank engineer Max Bolleman, who mentioned the footage in his memoirs I’m The Beat.

See my review of Rhyne’s only album as a leader in the ’60s, Organi-zing here.

Melvin Rhyne may not have made the headlines but he has always been a much-beloved organist. A special one who did not strictly follow the blazing style of pioneer Jimmy Smith but developed a restrained style with lines that betrayed thorough experience as pianist. His time was impeccable and his ‘plucky’ and dry sound stood out from the pack. Mike LeDonne told yours truly a couple of years ago that Milt Jackson believed Melvin Rhyne to be the greatest bebop organist.

Rhyne, best known for his contributions to the trio of fellow Indy cat and iconic guitarist West Montgomery, appeared on three major league Montgomery records, disappeared from the scene in the ’70’s but resurfaced particularly on the Criss Cross label of Gerry Teekens in the ’90s. (with Bolleman at the console) From then on the organist cooperated prolifically with New York guys that had known about Rhyne’s class all along, like Peter Bernstein, Eric Alexander, Bryan Lynch and Kenny Washington. He influenced various contemporary organists such as Mike LeDonne, Brian Charette, Kyle Koehler and Arno Krijger.

B3 hero!

Our Man In The Hague

DEXTER GORDON REISSUE –

Good news for those who every year at the ‘requiem for the departed’ All Souls start to thinking again, ‘damn this pretty rare Dexter Gordon record keeps eluding me time and again…’. That particular record, All Souls, the live performance of Long Tall Dex with the Rob Agerbeek Trio in 1972, is reissued, newly remastered, on the Ultra Vybe label in Japan. Plus bonus track.

As one of many expatriates in Europe, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was a welcome guest at the European stages in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Not only did the Copenhagen-based progenitor of bop tenor sax and hard bop giant play festivals, he also participated in tours in little places across countries like The Netherlands. Here’s a fragment from a letter that Gordon wrote to friends in Denmark: “This tour is quite fantastic; we are traveling through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and France! It’s six weeks no, seven and I’m getting rich! Anyway, it’s very well organized and seems to be a success. For the most part I’m working with the same group…”.

From l. to. r: All Souls; Ultra Vybe CD; gatefold LP; Dexter Gordon’s bicycle race.

That band consisted of pianists Rein de Graaff and occasional substitute Rob Agerbeek, bassist Henk Haverhoek and drummer Eric Ineke. All Souls, with Agerbeek at the piano, was recorded on November 2, 1972 at the Haagse Jazz Club in The Hague, The Netherlands. Gordon is in excellent form. All Souls was reviewed in Flophouse Magazine in 2017, read the review here.

Eric Ineke once in conversation recounted to me the last time that he met Gordon at North Sea Jazz in the early ‘80s. Gordon waved and shouted, “S.O.S!”. Gordon did not mean that he was in clear and present danger, but instead added, “Same Old Shit!”. Long Tall Dex had style and humor. Ineke reflected that it was darkly humorous, because Gordon was getting more tired and burned out at the latter stage of his life.

Find All Souls on Ultra Vybe here. Distribution from The Netherlands is scheduled for this year. And good luck with the vintage vinyl hunt, of course.

The Diamond Five - Brilliant

The Diamond Five Brilliant! (Fontana 1964)

The Diamond Five showed all the young Dutch aspiring cats, hey, there’s no limit to swingin’ the American Way.

The Diamond Five - Brilliant

Personnel

Cees Smal (trumpet, flugelhorn & valve trombone), Harry Verbeke (tenor saxophone), Cees Slinger (piano), Jacques Schols (bass), John Engels (drums)

Recorded

on May 12 & 30 in Hilversum

Released

as Fontana 650 520 TL in 1964

Track listing

Side A:
Johnny’s Birthday
Ruined Girl
Lutuli
Side B:
Lining Up
Newborn
Monosyl


In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, European musicians started to get the hang of it as far as hard bop was concerned. The Jazz Couriers of Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott raised the bar in the Ol’ Country. Lars Gullin and Ake Persson pushed the Scandinavian envelope. Drummers Daniel Humair from France and Franco Manchezzi from Italy kicked many visiting Americans into action. And The Diamond Five was Holland’s finest, part of developments that deepened the feeling for jazz, which included landmark events like the Concertgebouw concerts of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, John Coltrane and Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.

The Diamond Five formed in late 1958, when pianist Cees Slinger was asked by the management of Sheherazade (“De Zade”) to form a band. Slinger recruited trumpeter Cees Smal and tenor saxophonist Harry Verbeke from The Diamonds, bassist Dick van de Capelle – who soon suffered an injury that would throw him off the scene for a number of years and was replaced by Jacques Schols in 1959 – and drummer John Engels.

The band enjoyed a great run in Sheherazade, which it co-owned till 1962, for approximately four years. Many visiting Americans shared its stage, among others Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Don Byas, J.J. Johnson and players from Quincy Jones’s Free & Easy touring band like Benny Bailey, Phil Woods and Jerome Richardson. “De Zade” was the place to be, virtual jazz center of The Netherlands, where like-minded spirits as Piet Noordijk, Nedly Elstak, Rob Pronk, Rob Madna and Cees Kranenburg also made their mark.

The Diamond Five toured extensively and made a series of EP’s preceding their full-length record Brilliant in 1964, the final year of the band’s existence. (Excluding its comeback period in 1973-75) First of all, isn’t that cover of Brilliant brilliant? Catchy, classy, unconventional, one that stares at you seductively from the bins. And once the needle has settled into the grooves, everyone will most likely have agreed that The Diamond Five was a seductive quintet that put just the right amount of sleaze in a polished set of hard bop. Three cooking tunes by Cees Smal – Johnny’s Birthday, Lining Up and Monosyl – alternate with the intriguing Lutuli and mellow Newborn by the hip arranger Ruud Bos and the ballad Ruined Girl by future avant-garde musician Theo Loevendie.

Smal and Verbeke move smoothly through their book of songs, Smal with vivid lyricism on trumpet, flugelhorn and the most welcome addition of valve trombone on Johnny’s Birthday, Verbeke with generous big tones and extended notes and wails that bring to mind Dexter Gordon. Verbeke is modern yet down to earth and witty in a swing-era kind of way. Like a rotund, frivolous uncle teaching his nephew to shoot pool or catch wild salmon. Slinger thoroughly swings, incited by Schols and Engels, who finally had put his fervent trademark kick starts and fiery and alert backing on a big platter of wax.

Not surprisingly, all members enjoyed fruitful careers. Smal and Schols alternated freelance work with solid engagements for radio and tv. Verbeke was a prime tenorist for many years, Slinger a dedicated modern jazz soloist who accompanied many visiting American legends. Schols was bandmate of Engels on popular recordings by Louis van Dijk and Wim Overgaauw. John Engels is the last man standing. Internationally acclaimed drummer who played with Chet Baker, Teddy Edwards, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, you name it. Alive and kicking at the age of 85.

Hard to find LP of a legendary Dutch outfit. Great re-issue (as shown) out there.

Wilbert Longmire - Revolution

Wilbert Longmire Revolution (World Pacific 1970)

Buried in the excess of groove-oriented records in the late ‘60s and early ’70s: Wilbert Longmire’s Revolution, funk jazz gem of a promising and talented guitarist.

Wilbert Longmire - Revolution

Personnel

Wilbert Longmire (guitar), Wilton Felder (tenor sax), Anthony Ortega (sax), Greg Barone (trumpet), George Bohanon (trombone), Leon Spencer Jr. (organ, piano), Cal Green (guitar), Larry Gales (string bass), Ron Johnson (Fender Bass), Paul Humphrey (drums), Joe Sample (arranger, conductor)

Recorded

in 1970 at Liberty Studios, Los Angeles, California

Released

as WP-20161 in 1970

Track listing

Side A:
Scarborough Fair/Canticle
Galveston
This Guy’s In Love With You
Theme From “The Fox”
Revolution
Side B:
Movin’ On
Bewitched
Somebody Loves You
Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose


It might’ve been because World Pacific hardly backed up what little funk jazz the Californian label had in its roster, at least not the way Prestige or Blue Note put their stuff on the market place. It might’ve been because Longmire didn’t promote Revolution with a proper working band. Anyway, Longmire’s debut album has always been decidedly under the radar, a fact of funk jazz life that is too bad and in dire need of rectification. If hardly revolutionary, Revolution is a first-class soul jazz effort and should be high on reissuing lists. Anyone? Fresh Sound?

Born in Mobile, Alabama, raised in Cincinnatti, Ohio, Longmire played with Red Prysock and organists Brother Jack McDuff, Trudy Pitts and Hank Marr. Check out Longmire on Marr’s Live At The Club 502 here. Somehow World Pacific got a hold on him and the guitarist was West Coast bound, ending up in the company of two crackerjack Jazz Crusaders/Crusaders, Joe Sample and Wilton Felder. Extremely active as guest artists and producers outside the realm of their prolific hard bop and soul jazz collective, Joe Sample arranges and conducts the band and string section and Wilton Felder plays tenor sax on Revolution, which also features excellent drummer Paul Humphrey.

Chockfull of contemporary tunes and hits, Longmire selected Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair, Jim Webb’s Galveston, David/Bacharach’s This Guy’s In Love With You, Lalo Schifrin’s Theme From “The Fox”, John Lennon/Beatles’ Revolution, The Delfonics’ Somebody Loves You and Carl Bobbitt’s Give It Up Or Turnit Loose, which was immortalized by James Brown. Revolution is completed by Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers’ Bewitched and his original composition, the sweeping blues Movin’ On.

Such an abundance of pop and soul might easily overwhelm and ultimately bore the jazz listener. However, Longmire succinctly wards off this threat with his flexible, original style. Fat, crystalline tone, fast fingers, gusty winds of varied triplets, thunderstorms of triplets, tsunamis of triplets… Subtle twists and turns, plenty of fire, bossy attitude. Longmire treads the ground between Grant Green and, similar relative unknown as our subject of funkiness, Freddie Robinson; between blues and jazz. Longmire is in the forefront of the mix, bursting from the speakers, embedded in the big sound of a band that includes the typically turbulent and soulful tenor of Felder, a number of wicked and greasy stories by organist Leon Spencer Jr. and a section of strings that, rather surprisingly, does nothing to diminish the record’s solid pocket.

Nothing wrong with the slick soul of Somebody Loves You, the added fuel to the fire of the smooth country-pop of Galveston and the tasty shuffle treatment of Revolution. Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose kills the dance floor crowd but Longmire’s rendition of Scarborough Fair is without a doubt the heaviest mother of his funk repertoire. No Spotify, no reissue to date, link on YouTube luckily, so here’s Scarborough Fair. Fair enough? Absolutely not, but make do and enjoy.