Jimmy McGriff - Honey

Jimmy McGriff Honey (Solid State 1968)

You can pick your favorite soul tune from Jimmy McGriff’s 1968 Honey album and dance, dance, dance.

Jimmy McGriff - Honey

Personnel

Jimmy McGriff (organ), Uncredited ‘Organ & Big Blues Band’

Recorded

in 1968 in New York City

Released

as SS-18036 in 1968

Track listing

Side A:
(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone
Respect
Chain Of Fools
We’re A Winner
Up, Up And Away
Side B:
Tell Mama
Honey
I Thank You
I Got The Feelin’
Baby, I Love You
(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay


It’s a blatantly commercial album by McGriff, who was quite popular ever since the organist from Philadelphia scored a hit on Sue Records in 1962 with Ray Charles’ I Got A Woman. Switching to Solid State in 1966, McGriff’s version of Cherry did very well on the charts. Producer Sonny Lester must’ve dreamt of making McGriff just as famous as his mentor and friend, Jimmy Smith, who was the most popular soul jazz artist of the era, more so after he switched from Blue Note to Verve, under the guidance of Creed Taylor. Sonny Lester used McGriff in a variety of settings, from blues, pop to big band, some more successful than others. Essentially, Honey presents a rather arbitrary choice of popular soul tunes. Just put ‘m all on one album, see which one picks up any airplay.

But. Big but. Although it would’ve been nice if McGriff had recorded more often in a modern jazz setting in the sixties, (McGriff’s albums on Milestone in the 80s and 90s are more jazz-oriented) McGriff’s clever voicing and modern approach have not altogether vanished from his chart-running songbook. Besides, McGriff is a blues master that rarely disappoints in the kind of setting Honey represents. He is, after all, a groove monster without peer!

The album is a mix of uptempo classics like Respect, Chain Of Fools, I Thank You, medium-tempo tunes as (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, James Brown’s funky I Got The Feelin’ and the odd pop tune, Jimmy Webb’s Up, Up And Away. Throughout, McGriff’s charming mix of screamin’ blues riffs and dazzling little bop lines keeps the listener on his toes. His timing is hip, floating around the beat. The band is seriously rocking, backing McGriff as if Otis, King Solomon or the Wicked Pickett is holding the mic. The sax player has no inkling to play ‘safe’ soul licks but instead – a pleasant surprise – injects cookers like Honey with tantalizing modern-jazzy phrases on what sounds like the electric Varitone saxophone. The group is uncredited. It might be saxophonist Fats Theus, who played on McGriff’s The Worm in 1968 as well.

Honey paid the bills. In later life, McGriff kept gigging steadily, making a living on the road. A while ago, the late flutist, saxophone player and educator Peter Guidi recounted his stint as a sideman with McGriff to Flophouse, describing the traveling organist’s classy van as a bonafide ‘mobile bordello, laced with red velvet’. It also carried the Hammond B3 and indispensable Leslie speaker. Guidi remembered the day McGriff offered him a gig, but Guidi, who almost once got killed carrying a B3 down the stairs of a club, said: “I love your work and I want the job. As long as I don’t have to carry the damn thing!” McGriff laughed. Guidi got the gig anyway.

It is a blessing that, in spite of the machine’s awkward shape and elephantine weight, there have been so many fine organists. Jimmy McGriff definitely was one of the leaders of the pack.

The full album is on YouTube. Listen here.

Wayne Shorter - Night Dreamer

Wayne Shorter Night Dreamer (Blue Note 1964)

After all these years, the dark-hued adventures of Wayne Shorter on Blue Note have lost nothing of their mysterious charm.

Wayne Shorter - Night Dreamer

Personnel

Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Lee Morgan (trumpet), McCoy Tyner (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)

Recorded

on April 29, 1964 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 4173 in 1964

Track listing

Side A:
Night Dreamer
Oriental Folk Song
Virgo
Side B:
Black Nile
Charchoal Blues
Armageddon


Dutch bassist and jazz scholar Hans Mantel once asked Wayne Shorter if he was conscious of creating stone-cold classic albums on Blue Note in the sixties. The tenor and soprano saxophonist’s answer was: ‘What you young cats must realize is, is that we made our records to pay our rent!’

Gold coins from the Byzantine period fade into insignificance compared with the run of Blue Note platters by Wayne Shorter. The tenor and soprano saxophonist, best known by the general public for his role in the Second Great Quintet of Miles Davis and fusion group Weather Report, still going strong today as ‘the greatest living jazz composer’, started off his stretch on Blue Note as a leader with Night Dreamer in 1964. It preceded the perennial favorites and classic albums Juju and Speak No Evil.

Significantly, Shorter’s debuting run of albums on VeeJay in the late fifties and early sixties consisted almost solely of original compositions. As part of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers from 1959-64, Shorter also contributed a slew of fresh, exciting tunes. Furthermore, the Newark, New Jersey-born saxophonist showed his prowess as an original tenor man. As the years went by in the acclaimed and propulsive Blakey outfit, Shorter’s solo’s grew more explorative and explosive. His roaring tale during the rousing modal Shorter composition Free For All is plain crazy. A raid of hand granates kicked back by Blakey in equally tempestuous fashion. Shorter carried over that vibe to Night Dreamer, drawing on the energy of another legendary drummer, Elvin Jones. He stretches his limits song-wise, presenting a set of haunting compositions that are unusually structured but nevertheless flow effortlessly like the meandering side branches of the Euphrates or Tigris.

Where to begin? Any song writer would’ve been happy to deliver the moody melodies of Oriental Folk Song and Virgo. However, the key pieces are Night Dreamer, Black Nile and Armageddon. The whole package – structure, mood, energy, interaction – is perfectly balanced, like an essential performance of a Mozart symphony, with the remarkable difference, the ultimate feat that distinguished jazz from any other music form, that the core of Night Dreamer is spontaneous improvisation.

The album features trumpeter Lee Morgan, Shorter’s frontline partner of The Jazz Messengers, bassist Reggie Workman and the powerhouse duo that was part of the epic John Coltrane Quartet, pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones. Masterclass of depth and hard swing guaranteed. The pushing and pulling of the beat and wide open spaces of Elvin Jones and the extravagant and tasteful piano excursions of McCoy Tyner cannot fail to be a stimulus to original reed and brass players like Shorter and Morgan. Shorter is a dark prince lurking in the shadows, occasionally darting out of the corner, growling ominously, reciting ancient poetry, the stanzas streaming out of his mouth like wine from a bottle: enigma. Morgan is the florid touch, hard bop royalty, weaving in and out of modal spheres fluently, shooting multiple straight arrows, cocky and convincing: brilliant sleaze. He’s the uplifting opposite of Shorter, who is a demon driving away demons.

Shorter’s sound may not be as characteristic as the tone of great contemporaries or past masters but his compositions never cease to amaze. The nocturnal Night Dreamer hinges on the subtle balance of relative chordal simplicity and depth of feeling and the suave and surprising storytelling by Shorter. The relentless drive is one of many striking aspects of the modal cooker Black Nile. The long, beautiful lines of Armageddon contrast with the booming in-your-face rhythm, the furious rolls and switch of polyrhythm to explosive shuffle groove by Elvin Jones. Expressiveness is the focus of a composition with a minimum of subtly moving chords. Shorter and Morgan rise to the occasion.

The mood nocturnal, with a sense of foreboding and inner turmoil that’s crystallized in a curious state of serenity, Night Dreamer is akin to Herbie Hancock’s Empyrean Isles and Andrew Hill’s Judgement. The avant-leaning catalogue of Blue Note, that daring mid-sixties series of albums from Shorter, Hancock, Hill, McLean and Hutcherson that require repeated listening. Label boss Alfred Lion gave his roster of adventurous talents free reign, very insightful from the legendary independent record executive. To boot, Lion even paid for rehearsal time. And so, in a way, for the rent of the Shorter family’s apartment somewhere deep in the bowels of The Big Apple.

Harold Land - Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music

Harold Land Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music (Imperial 1963)

Get acquinted with Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music, the underappreciated gem in the discography of tenor saxophonist Harold Land.

Harold Land - Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music

Personnel

Harold Land (tenor saxophone), Carmell Jones (trumpet), John Houston (piano), Jimmy Bond (bass), Mel Lee (drums)

Recorded

on July 3 & 17 at Radio Recorders, Los Angeles

Released

as Imperial 12247 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Tom Dooley
Scarlet Ribbons
Foggy, Foggy Dew
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Side B:
On Top Of Old Smokey
Take This Hammer
Hava Nagila
Blue Tail Fly


We love Harold Land, one of the finest tenor saxophonists of his generation, who fills the void between Rollins and Mobley. He employs a hard but clean tone and is rarely short on ideas. His fluent playing makes it feel as if the changes do not exist. Taste written all over Mr. Land, who loves chili pepper, goes easy on salt. Land came into his own just before Charlie Parker passed away early in 1955, the era of the burgeoning hard bop style, when the tenorist from Houston, Texas was part of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, partaking in the making of the group’s essential albums. His stint with the challenging, popular outfit sealed Land’s reputation as a major voice on the tenor saxophone.

Land spent a large part of his career on the West Coast, where he recorded the eponymous The Fox with trumpeter Dupree Bolton and pianist Elmo Hope. He enjoyed a fruitful cooperation with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson on a string of Blue Note albums in the late 60s and early 70s. A number of albums by Land, who passed away in 2001, are popular items, particularly West Coast Blues – with guitarist Wes Montgomery – and The Peacemaker.

Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music owns its rightful place in that category. Folk music? Sure, why not. The folk boom was at its height in the mid-sixties, Pete Seeger a working class hero, Seeger’s former copycat Bob Dylan was making a big name for himself, folkies flocked the streets of Greenwich Village. Jazz jumped on the bandwagon. Even big names like Duke Ellington did Blowin’ In The Wind. The great Bud Shank dug in too, on his Folk Flute album, a forgettable commercial affair, by the way. But jazz interpretations of folk tunes weren’t always specifically designed to try to cash in. Sonny Rollins famously posed as an old cowhand and recorded Way Out West in 1957, one of the prime examples of the transformative potential of jazz. A couple of albums that were released during the era of Land’s album were Art Farmer’s To Sweden With Love, Clifford Jordan’s Plays Leadbelly and Shelly Manne’s My Son The Drummer, a set of Jewish and Hebrew songs. Good company.

Land chose a bit of everything, sneaking into the skin of cowboy, Hebrew cat and John Henry. The repertoire consists of Tom Dooley, Scarlet Ribbons, Foggy, Foggy Dew, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, On Top Of Old Smokey, Take This Hammer, Hava Nagila and Blue Tail Fly. It’s consistently excellent. The frontline sparkles with warm unison melodies and spontaneous ad-libs. The underrated Carmell Jones, a trumpeter with a shiny full tone, delicately using slurs and bends, rides on the waves of a solid rhythm trio, that moves with ease and urgent swing and responds merrily to Land and Jones, who secretly pass canned heat to one another in a smoke-filled corner of the saloon. Pianist John Houston adds a number of nimble, lively lines.

The story of Land’s Tom Dooley is a rare thing of beauty. The warmth and fluidity of Land’s playing not only pervades that opening tune, but the entire program of his sincere jazz folk album.

Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music is unfortunately not released on CD or streamed as yet, but it is part of The Mosaic Select set of Carmell Jones. Find (here).

Listen to Kisses Sweeter Than Wine on YouTube (here).

Dave Pike - It's Time For Dave Pike

Dave Pike It’s Time For Dave Pike (Riverside 1961)

It’s time for Dave Pike, Charlie Parker on vibes.

Dave Pike - It's Time For Dave Pike

Personnel

Dave Pike (vibraphone), Barry Harris (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Billy Higgins (drums)

Recorded

on January 30 & April 9, 1961 at Plaza Sound Studio, New York City

Released

as RLP 360 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Cheryl
On Green Dolphin Street
It’s Time
Hot House
Side B:
Forward
Solar
Little Girl Blue
Tendin’ To Business


Again, Flophouse is drawn towards the turn of that decade, a pivotal, transitional period of jazz. It’s January 1961, the past year and a half the jazz world has been shaken up by Kind Of Blue, Giant Steps and the first Ornette Coleman albums. The back-to-the-roots concept of Horace Silver and the blues-drenched organ style of Jimmy Smith are in full swing. In label-terminology: modal jazz, post-bop, free jazz, hard bop and soul jazz. To be sure, labeling is artificial, perhaps in equal measure an invention devised for explanation and marketing. But jazz is not a file that you put in a grey locker. It is a gelling of personalities and innovations.

Keyword: interconnection. However, by 1961, the label left out above, ye old bebop, was by no means exhausted, even if this was what some critics were prone to conclude at the time. You’re just a Parker-ite was a condemnation suitable for half-talents but too easily casted upon excellent players. It is not to be taken too badly. The critics had to drive through the tornado of change. We have the big picture. And in the hands of the major league, bebop was, five years after the passing of Charlie Parker, fresh as a daisy, sprightly as a little lamb in Spring. We have a number of major league personalities on It’s Time For Dave Pike. First and foremost, the leader of the date, Dave Pike. Influenced by Milt Jackson, equally virtuosic and a great interpreter of the blues, Pike went a long way to gain popularity with bossa albums and the odd psychedelic pie – The Doors Of Perception – in the sixties and experimented with other genres in the early seventies. However, Pike eventually returned to his straight-ahead roots for the remainder of his career.

Pre-eminently, Barry Harris. One would be hard-pressed to find a session where the Detroit-born pianist was involved in that didn’t quite work out. He’s like a weathered soccer player that functions as both coach and captain in the field, blessed with instinct for the perfect pass and the mental helicopter view to balance the team’s tactics. Then there’s Reggie Workman, already a strong personality on bass and drummer Billy Higgins, who was becoming an influential hard bop drummer while also being engaged in Ornette Coleman’s free extensions of the jazz language.

Well-executed bop is far from the stereotypical nerve-wracking abracadabra. Pike’s group serves well as ambassador of bop’s beauty on It’s Time For Dave Pike. Pike’s clarity of line and urgent swing do justice to Charlie Parker’s Cheryl, Tadd Dameron’s Hot House, Miles Davis’s Solar and the title tune by Pike, It’s Time. The breakneck speed of Pike’s Forward is acted upon brilliantly by Pike and Harris, On Green Dolphin Street‘s fluency and Workman’s fat, bouncy bass lines catch the ear, while Pike slows down proceedings with a lush solo reading of Little Girl Blue.

The enchantment of Cheryl remains present after repeating spins. It flows remarkably gently along, like calming waves that touch the Atlantic shore… A floating, natural rhythm. Pike takes a dive, brightly alternates front crawl with the butterfly. The chords and lines of Harris work like glue, keeping together the multi-faceted phrases of Pike, trading suggestions of harmonic direction with the receptive Workman and Higgins. Harris sneaks a wonderful, exuberant glissando in his typically thoughtful solo tale. If it weren’t for soccer, Harris would’ve become a maestro pattisiér, staying close to the recipe of his father while putting all kinds of detailed cherries on top. Perfect combination with the round, ringing sound of Pike, who audibly hums along with his crystal clear lines. A human voice wrung out of metal, the mallets harbingers of bebop soul with immaculate timing.

Dutch pianist Rein de Graaff regularly played with Dave Pike, who was discussed during his interview with Flophouse a couple of years ago. As far as De Graaff is concerned, It’s Time For Dave Pike was nothing short of “Charlie Parker on vibes!”. Bop master De Graaff, who semi-retired recently, pointed towards a vibraphone that stood beside the baby grand in his music room and said, “that’s the vibraphone Pike played on It’s Time. He gave it to me as a gift.” His friend had passed away six months before our interview.

You could hear a pin drop.

Buddy Terry - Natural Soul Natural Woman

Buddy Terry Natural Soul Natural Woman (Prestige 1968)

For Buddy Terry, natural soul is the music of the church, the street and John Coltrane.

Buddy Terry - Natural Soul Natural Woman

Personnel

Buddy Terry (tenor saxophone, flute), Joe Thomas (tenor saxophone, flute), Robbie Porter (baritone saxophone), Woody Shaw (trumpet, flugelhorn), Larry Young (organ), Jiggs Chase (organ), Wally Richardson (guitar), Jimmy Lewis (Fender bass), Eddie Gladden (drums), the Terry Girls (vocals)

Recorded

on November 15, 1967 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7541 in 1968

Track listing

Side A:
Natural Woman
Natural Soul (Sunday Go To Meetin’ Blues)
Pedro, The One Arm Bandit
Don’t Be So Mean
Side B:
The Revealing Time
Quiet Days And Lonely Nights


The legendary Prestige label had added soul jazz to its cutting-edge modern jazz catalogue in the early sixties. In fact, by putting numerous hi-profile advertisements of their stock in magazines like Downbeat, continuously stressing the ‘soul’ of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Forrest, Groove Holmes, Gene Ammons and many others, it was a deciding factor in the invention and popularization of soul jazz. By the late 60s, when interest in mainstream jazz dwindled, Prestige focused on funky, bluesy jazz in sync with contemporary popular music and its buying public. So you’d get the barroom organ blues of Sonny Philips or the mean, greasy tenor of Houston Person, who scored one of the last Prestige hits with Jamilah. And Prestige had signed tenor saxophonist Buddy Terry, who’d assisted organist Freddie Roach on Soul Book in 1966. Terry released his debut album as a leader, Electric Soul in 1968. You mean like, soul? In the late sixties, label boss and artists of Prestige still didn’t have to think twice about picking titles.

Buddy Terry had played in the organ groups of Rhoda Scott, Dee Dee Ford, Dayton Shelby and Larry Young and cooperated with Sonny Rollins and Johnny Coles. A couple of years were spent in the band of Lionel Hampton. For Natural Soul Natural Woman, the tough tenor with a ‘far out’ edge assembled his Newark, New Jersey pals – pleasant surprise! – Larry Young, Woody Shaw and Eddie Gladden, weathered cats like tenorist and flutist Joe Thomas, as well as the so-called Terry Girls on vocals – perhaps including the beautiful lady on the front cover? So then you get Don’t Be So Mean, a lurid boogaloo tune with a tacky twist, absolutely the album’s highlight. You get Pedro, The One Arm Bandit, obscure folk music jazzed up upliftingly, following the path Rollins famously paved.

You get Natural Woman, Aretha Franklin’s anthemic soul ballad, that features the Terry Girls and Buddy Terry hollering mercy, mercy; Quiet Days And Lonely Nights, a solid ballad. And finally, The Revealing Time, a mid-tempo blues that passes the 11-minute mark, ample opportunity to stretch out for Terry and Young. Woody Shaw only has short bits of solo space. Honestly, the brilliant, last great innovator of the trumpet’s worthwhile statements are overshadowed by rather lackluster, staccato ad-libs. Sleepy, perhaps.

Buddy Terry, on the other hand, is spry as the cow that line-dances onto the field in Spring. He’s a minister arousing the flock. And a captain of the Enterprise reaching out to the aliens around the Ring of Saturn. His dirty playing style and harmonic sophistication brings to mind Eddie Harris. Buddy Terry took matters in his own hands and also provided the liner notes to his album of raucous soul jazz. A curious mix of bio and exegesis. Terry states: “The entire album is my song of praise to God.”

Hallelujah time well-spent.

Dizzy Reece - Soundin' Off

Dizzy Reece Soundin’ Off (Blue Note 1960)

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place for trumpeter Dizzy Reece on his third Blue Note album Soundin’ Off from 1960.

Dizzy Reece - Soundin' Off

Personnel

Dizzy Reece (trumpet), Walter Bishop Jr. (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Art Taylor (drums)

Recorded

on May 12, 1960 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 4033 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Ghost Of A Chance
Once In A While
Eb Pob
Side B:
Yesterdays
Our Love Is Here To Stay
Blue Streak


Mr. Reece is still active these days at the ripe old age of 88. What’s more, performances of Dizzy Reece’s music, Routes In Jazz, have been held last January under the leadership of Trevor Watkins in the United Kingdom to much acclaim. 2019, Cool Britannia caught in the stereotypical web of contemporary polarization, a world away from 1948, when the young Kingston, Jamaica-born Reece set foot first in liberated Paris then the rebuilding war victor, the U.K., where fish and chips was everyone’s requested Last Meal and Stoke-On-Trent a place that played hide and seek with Sheffield under clouds of factory smoke. The talented Reece somehow caught the attention of Blue Note and recorded his debut as a leader, Blues In Trinity, with Donald Byrd, Art Taylor and a British crew including powerhouse tenorist Tubby “Tubbs” Hayes.

Reece moved to New York City in 1959 and, winning fans like Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, soon found himself in the studio of Rudy van Gelder at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Initially, Reece recorded with a quintet including Hank Mobley, a session that spawned Star Bright. Then Blakey was behind the kit, Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano and Jimmy Merritt on bass. The result: Comin’ On, recorded in 1960 but not released until 1999. Great album. Great line-up. In fact – in case you haven’t figured it out yet – Reece and Turrentine fronted a bonafide Jazz Messengers rhythm section. The explosive Blakey regularly pushes the guys to the brink, Reece holding his own pretty darn well.

However, I have warmer feelings for Soundin’ Off. The relaxed but probing rhythmic flow of drummer Art Taylor, bassist Doug Watkins and pianist Walter Bishop Jr. and the fact that Reece is the sole horn gives the trumpeter ample opportunity to let his true voice ring. A voice gay here, mournful there, tender, witty, sexy. Sexy enough to seduce audiences in the Big Apple, yet because of lack of opportunities Reece re-settled in jazz-minded Europe eventually. In a 2004 Jazz Times interview Reece said that he also got negative feedback on his integrated marriage.

Reece favors expressive statements over speed trials, wrapping his loving arms around ballads like Ghost Of A Chance, ridin’ on the blue notes of Once In A While with sleazy slurs, swinging smoothly on medium-tempo tunes like the Monk-ish Reece original Eb PobEcaroh, Airegin, Eb Pob… Those modern jazz guys knew their way with wordplay. The nimble and occasionally locked-hands-lines of Bishop Jr. and the jubilant Reece make Yesterdays absolutely irresistible.

Sweet but with a lot of spunk. The way we like our hard bop artists from the Blue Note roster.

The album is part of a compilation package on Spotify, starts with track 13, up to 18. Listen below.

Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers - Doin' What We Wanna

Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers Doin’ What We Wanna (Atlantic 1970)

Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers’s Doin’ What We Wanna is a bonafide funk jazz classic.

Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers - Doin' What We Wanna

Personnel

Clarence Wheeler (tenor saxophone), Sonny Covington (trumpet), Sonny Burke (organ), George Hughes (drums), Cissy Houston, Judy Clay & Jackie Verdell (vocals B1)

Recorded

on November 18, 1969 at Universal Studios, Chicago

Released

as Atlantic 1551 in 1970

Track listing

Side A:
Hey Jude
Sham Time
Theme From Electric Surfboard
Side B:
Right On
Dream Bossa Nova
Doin’ What I Wanna
C.W.


Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers was a Chicago-based outfit that consisted of tenor saxophonist Clarence Wheeler, trumpeter Sonny Covington, organist Sonny Burke and drummer George Hughes. Wheeler was formerly associated with organists Jack McDuff and Don Patterson, Covington with organist Eddie Buster, Burke with Odell Brown & The Organizers and Mahalia Jackson, Hughes with Sonny Criss and Sonny Stitt. The story of the group’s heavy-hitting and uplifting debut album from 1970, Doin’ What We Wanna, as collected from DJ Merri Lee’s liner notes (about the only information available on the obscure group), is, paradoxically, rather tragic. Wheeler called in on Dee to ask him to announce the funeral of his young wife on the radio station. On a subsequent visit to the studio, Wheeler discussed his current project, The Enforcers, information that Dee passed to Atlantic’s A&R man, Joel Dorn. Dorn visited a performance by the band and, duly impressed, signed The Enforcers. It wasn’t long before they recorded Doin’ What We Wanna on November 18, 1969.

Subsequently, the group recorded two albums for Atlantic, The Love I’ve Been Looking For in 1971 and New Chicago Blues in 1973. Good albums but Doin’ What We Wanna is the one, bingo, touchdown, or in terms of darts, one-hundred-and-eeeiiighttyyyyy! There’s no end to the joyful surprise of discovering their thunderous uptempo version of Eddie Harris’s Sham Time, vigorous take on Brother Jack McDuff’s Theme From Electric Surfboard, bashful groove of Doin’ What I Wanna and joyful funk of Lee Roland’s Right On, which has, helped along by singers Cissy Houston, Judy Clay and Jackie Verdell, a Mardi Gras-ish feel to it. The fusion of New Orleans Funk and the South Side is a fact!

Recording engineer Jerry DeClerque perfectly encapsulated the meaty sound that The Enforcers presumably entertained club crowds with in the Midwest. Furthermore, the spicy solo’s of Wheeler, Covington and Burke should be pointed out, funk and modern jazz functioning as indelible parts of the meaty sum. And Wheeler is a clever arranger, allowing himself funky poetic license, adding a groovy interlude and heavy breaks to their soaring interpretation of The Beatles/McCartney’s Hey Jude. The bass pedal sound and playing of organist Sonny Burke is the rabbit in the hat. Relatively simple lines with plenty of resonance and warmth serve as the indispensable undercurrent of the band’s muscular style throughout the album but especially during Hey Jude. The bass even constitutes the concise start of the album, an ear-catching commencement of Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers’s splendid soul jazz fest.