Killers of B3

ORGAN JAZZ IN THE 21ST CENTURY – First there was the church. Then there were Wild Bill Davis, Jimmy Smith, Larry Young and many excellent and exciting jazz organists. Since, the Hammond organ has become an invaluable supporter of pop, soul, country, rock and hip-hop music. Now we’ve landed in the 21st century. A brave new world protested against by a variety of accomplished players like Joey DeFrancesco, Larry Goldings and John Medeski, who’ve been loving the grease while enhancing the jazz organ tradition in fresh and energetic ways. Perhaps the roller rink history of the organ is still occasionally scaring of some listeners and musicians. But no doubt, the variety of sonic possibilities of the organ and the distinctive oscillations of its favorite cousin, the Leslie speaker, (don’t we love that sound!) keeps inspiring new generations to have a go and groove! Some of those talented artists and groups are ranked below, as well as a number of longtime creative players who may have escaped your attention. Enjoy!

The White Blinds

That’s a swell band name. It beats The Venetian Blinds. As far as Venice is concerned, we’re very close. Venice, California, that is. The White Blinds hail from Los Angeles and consist of three fixtures of the LA funk and soul scene, drummer Michael Duffy, organist Carey Frank and guitarist Matt Hornbeck. The group locks into a definite pocket, inspired by classic soul and funk jazz of the sixties and seventies. The release of their debut album, Get To Steppin’, is due for release in September on F-Spot Records.

The White Blinds

Check out the website of The White Blinds here.

Listen to their single Get To Steppin’ on YouTube. Remember Charles Earland, Boogaloo Joe Jones and Bernard Purdie?

Blue Note Organ Trio

NNostalgia has a counter-productive inkling and retro can get pretty tedious. But certainly not in the hands of the snappy Blue Note Organ Trio, which provides multi-media evenings of ‘repertoire exclusively from 1952-67 Era Blue Note Records’. Yes, that’s right! Blue Mitchell, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Sonny Clark, etc. The Italian organist Leonardo Corradi and the Greek guitarist Michael Papadopoulos and drummer Sera Bellos are ranked among the finest jazz musicians of their generation in their countries. Take a good listen. These guys have their shit together.

Blue Note Organ Trio

Check out the website of Blue Note Organ Trio here.

Listen to their version of Donald Byrd’s Off To The Races on YouTube. Bit of Art Blakey in there too!

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

From Seattle comes the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. Delvin Lamarr (there are worse endings of names for an organist than Marr) on organ, Jimmy James on guitar and David McGraw on drums. A healthy dose of soul jazz, meaning jazz sensibility with a solid and entertaining backbone of soul and rhythm and blues. The debut album of the group, Close But No Cigar, which was released independently in 2016, has seen wide release by Columine in 2018. Also on vinyl, not only LP but 7inch as well. Paper sleeve and blue/white (!) label, like the vintage jukebox singles.

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Check out the website of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio here.

Listen to their version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up on YouTube. Sweet stuff.

Montis, Goudsmit & Directie

Montis, Goudsmit & Directie bring the house down like few contemporary groups. Frank Montis, (born Van de Berge) otherwise a very soulful singer and songwriter in the pop jazz field, plays organ Jimmy Smith/Jimmy McGriff-style. A funky, blues-drenched cat. The trio also includes Anton Goudsmit, maverick jazz guitarist and composer, and Cyril Directie, versatile and explosive pop, r&b and jazz drummer. On – and off – stage Montis, Goudsmit & Directie may resemble The Marx Brothers high on Benzedrine. Looks deceive, this deeply involved, expert bunch strikes some serious notes.

Montis, Goudsmit & Directie

Check out the website of Montis, Goudsmit & Directie here.

Here’s their take on Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together on YouTube. Subtle but propulsive!

Arno Krijger

Partaking in the adventures of the avant-leaning German trombonist/composer Nils Wogram’s Nostalgia for a number of years now has been a boost to the career and a challenge to the development of the Dutch organist Arno Krijger. His style, influenced by major innovator Larry Young, is tailor-made for daring searches of new land. A refined player with groove roots, Krijger is involved in myriad projects. His involvement with the Belgian saxophonist Toine Thys has been very rewarding. And The Professionalz come to mind, a trio also consisting of drummer Lucas van Merwijk and guitarist Ed Verhoeff, which limits their song playing time to 3 minutes, just like ‘the old days’ of the 78rmp era. Their album, 3 Minute Pieces, was released in 2018 on TamTam.

Arno Krijger

Check out the website of Arno Krijger here.

Listen to the Toine Thys Trio, assisted by guitarist Hervé Samb, play the Afro-Funk-ish Grizzly on YouTube. Four very original gentlemen.

Carlo de Wijs

Aveteran by now, Carlo de Wijs is one of the Hammond organ players in Europe to go to for real jazz and plenty groove. Carlo de Wijs, busy in the popular field as well, made his first album appearance on tenor saxophonist Harry Verbeke’s Mo de Bo in 1985 and never looked back. De Wijs has a striking love for the organ. Besides building analogue/digital B3 hybrids, De Wijs is a teacher of organ jazz at Codarts, Rotterdam – a novelty. By the way, the organist occasionally performs with the above-mentioned Arno Krijger during what is called Hammond Sandwich. A passion dance.

Carlo de Wijs

Check out the website of Carlo de Wijs here.

This is the Z-Shuffle (For Joe Zawinul) on YouTube. An acute and gritty performance.

Simon Oslender

Simon Oslender, born in Aachen, Germany in 1998, is an incredible talent with a bag full of experience at the young age of 20. He played and recorded with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Phil Lassiter, Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw, Wolfgang Haffner and Benjamin Herman, among others. A sought-after player in jazz and jazz-related music, one of Oslender’s favorite projects is Pimpy Pandy, a crossover unit in the vein of Snarky Puppy.

Simon Oslender

Check out the website of Simon Oslender here.

Hear Simon solo during a tour with Philip Lassiter on YouTube. Wild!

Will Blades

“The future” of organ jazz, according to the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith. Will Blades is in high demand, having worked with, among others, Idris Muhammad, Bernard Purdie, Melvin Sparks, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton and Billy Martin. Crunchy and/or eerie sounds from synths are the cherries on top of his fresh playing on the Hammond organ. Blades is not alone in this series as a player who makes excellent use of his heartfelt roots in soul, r&b, blues, funk and rock. Willing to carry organ jazz to the next centuries. Long live the killer B3!

Will Blades

Check out the website of Will Blades here.

Here’s Blades with Billy Martin doing the Little Shimmy. That rocks.

Arno Krijger pic: Photography Dieter Duvelmeyer
Will Blades pic: Photography nikof.photo@gmail.com

Jimmy McGriff - Live Where The Action's At!

Jimmy McGriff Live Where The Action’s At! (Veep 1966)

Live Where The Action’s At! is a typical album of organist Jimmy McGriff: ultimate groove, smart modern jazz ingredients.

Jimmy McGriff - Live Where The Action's At!

Personnel

Jimmy McGriff (organ), Thornell Schwartz (guitar), Willie Jenkins (drums)

Recorded

in 1966 at The Front Bar, New Jersey

Released

as Veep 13515 in 1966

Track listing

Side A:
Where It’s At
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Uptight
Frugal Bugle
Side B:
Georgia On My Mind
Goin’ Out Of My Head
Robbins Nest


Philadelphian Jimmy McGriff, (1936-2008) was an enormously popular organist who recorded in a variety of settings, from r&b, soul, pop, funk to big band. Late in life McGriff said that he felt forced to continue to record commercial stuff once he started scoring good-selling singles and albums. Glad to be able to pay them bills but… Presumably, McGriff referred to his work with Sue Records, where he scored his first hit in 1962 with I’ve Got A Woman and, particularly, Solid State. Solid State was the company of Sonny Lester, who tried to mold McGriff in the same popular vein as Jimmy Smith, one of McGriff’s mentors, who reached soul jazz stardom in the smart hands of Verve’s producer Creed Taylor.

Nevertheless, McGriff’s blues-drenched style almost always shone through. Lest we forget, McGriff’s records like Groove Grease (on Groove Merchant, also produced by Sonny Lester) are legendary funk jazz artifacts. And, once the soul jazz era had largely come to its conclusion in the late seventies, McGriff recorded his share of straight-ahead jazz albums, particularly on Milestone in the eighties and nineties during cooperations with Hank Crawford, Red Holloway and David “Fathead” Newman and, later on, the awesome contemporary tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander.

I think Jimmy really enjoyed what he was doing on the night that was recorded for the album Live Where The Action’s At!. The action’s at The Front Bar in Newark. One of the places – both bar and city – where they ate soul jazz like the cookie monster devoured biscuits. McGriff is accompanied by guitarist Thornel Schwartz, who played and recorded with Jimmy Smith in 1956 before hooking up first with Johnny “Hammond” Smith, then with McGriff – staying in the same territory! – and drummer Willie Jenkins during the early and mid-sixties. A tight-knit, prolific working and recording band. Production-wise, the album may be so-so, the drums sounding muffled, but as far as the standard of playing is concerned, it’s a gem! Somehow, the organist adapts diverse tunes as Stevie Wonder’s Uptight, old warhorses as Georgia On My Mind and Robbins Nest to that very special (and sweaty) climate region of planet McGriff. For one thing, his unforgettable sound, gritty, and straight from the baptist church, never fails to raise the hairs on your arms.

After building up momentum with bluesy phrasing and sparse flurries of notes, McGriff generally keeps up the groove beyond belief, working around short, screamin’ recurring figures, his touch percussive, his occassional ‘drone’ (the coupling of right hand lines with a sustained left hand chord) both hard-swinging and tasteful. He’s getting down to the nitty-gritty with bluesy McGriff originals like Where It’s At and Frugal Bugle. Raw McGriff blues is usually underlined by hip voicings, revealing a genuine taste and capacity for modern jazz playing. Traveling the hard road with Jimmy McGriff, Eric Alexander once said, while it means being provided with subtle accompaniment, is also a lesson in the skills of entertainment. Obviously, Live Where The Action’s At! is exceptional in both departments, and then some.

Check out Uptight on YouTube here.

And Robbins Nest here.