The real thing


We heard from guitarist Jack Kinsella, a fine straightforward jazz guitarist from The Hague, The Netherlands, who also plays in the positively charming country band The Good, The Bad & The English. Kinsella uploaded a couple of rare tunes from The Real Thing session from tenor saxophonist Houston Person featuring guitarist Grant Green and organist Brother Jack McDuff.

Of course, all participants are the grooviest, but as a guitarist, of course Kinsella is specifically interested in ‘hero’ Grant Green, also a Flophouse Favorite as everybody who trespasses the premises frank and free is well aware of. In the early 1970’s, Grant Green had moved from New York City to Detroit. The most prolific artist of Blue Note in the early 1960’s, even eclipsing chart magnet Jimmy Smith as far as number of sessions is concerned, he gradually vanished from the scene in the mid-1960’s, largely due to his addiction to narcotics.

Green returned at the end of the decade, inspired by his feature on organist Reuben Wilson’s Love Bug and, with strong support of Francis Wolff, set up a new career as jazz funk guitarist. Green made a series of great albums, revered nowadays as jazz funk classics by aficionados (though there always has been a strong segment that considered him a sell-out to real jazz at this point) and good sellers. Although Green remained quite frustrated at not having reached the kind of fame like Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery, who had passed away in 1968 after a run of extremely successful commercial albums.

Green was recently divorced and bought a house in Detroit. Motor City had always been a place where black people, secured of regular jobs in the automobile factories, owned more homes in general than elsewhere in the USA. Motown had left to Los Angeles but people still appreciated good ‘n’ groovy black music. One of the centerpieces of action was Watt’s Club Mozambique. How great the atmosphere and music was at this club can be heard on organist Lonnie Smith’s Live At Club Mozambique (recorded in 1970) and Green’s Live At Club Mozambique, (recorded in 1971 and also featuring Person and Muhammad) both ‘previously unreleased’ Blue Note albums from, respectively, 1995 and 2006.

Green was a regular musician on the stand of Club Mozambique. Another album, The Real Thing, by the great tenor saxophonist Houston Person, a double LP, was recorded in March 1973 and released the same year on Eastbound. It featured, in different line-ups, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, organists Brother Jack McDuff and Sonny Phillips, bassist (and Motown ‘Funk Brother’ legend) James Jamerson, drummers Idris Muhammad and Hank Brown and singers Etta Jones and Spanky Wilson. A solid album of pop, funk, blues and ballads. Listen to The Ohio Players’s Pain here.

Green appeared on five tracks on the official release. Kinsella found a bonus track on a compilation CD, Lester Leaps In, listen here. Great to hear Green, McDuff and Person in a straight-ahead mode. Next, Kinsella uploaded the funky Grazy Legs from the CD version, better quality than the vinyl rip, listen here.

Kinsella also mentions an upload from Big John Patton’s Blue John album featuring Grant Green from 1963, only released on CD in Japan in 2004, five bonus tracks including Green’s Jean de Fleur, five months before Green’s recording on his seminal Idle Moments, listen here.

Green is beautiful.

Charles Earland Black Talk (Prestige 1970)

The single from the session that spawned organist Charles Earland’s album Black Talk, a cover of the Spiral Staircase’s More Today Than Yesterday, was a big hit on black radio stations. Subsequently, Black Talk became one of Prestige’s best-selling albums. As far as organ and soul jazz goes, it is hard to find an album that keeps the energy level so enormously charged from start to finish.

Charles Earland - Black Talk


Charles Earland (organ), Houston Person (tenor saxophone), Virgil Jones (trumpet), Melvin Sparks (guitar), Idris Muhammad (drums), Buddy Caldwell (congas)


on December 15, 1969 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as PR 7758 in 1970

Track listing

Side A:
Black Talk
The Mighty Burner
Here Comes Charlie
Side B:
More Today Than Yesterday

Mainly responsible for Black Talk’s unstoppable vibe are Earland and quintessential soul jazz drummer Idris Muhammad. They shared duties in Lou Donaldson’s group and played on Say It Loud! and Hot Dog and would continue to play together on Everything I Play Is Funky. Apparently, recording Black Talk had been satisfactory, because the complete line-up of Black Talk minus Houston Person would record together six months later on saxophonist Rusty Bryant’s Soul Liberation.

Even a relatively lithe shuffle as More Today Than Yesterday is charged with remarkable energy. Earland’s driving solo is a highlight of the album, containing a string of coherent, funky statements. Another (famous) pop song, The Fifth Dimension’s Aquarius, also has guts, drive and a deeply groovy solo by Earland, as well as quietly thunderous bits by Virgil Jones. Jones strikes me as a very knowledgeable and pleasantly buoyant trumpeter.

Here Come Charlie is a Lou Donaldson-type boogaloo that evolves into a spirited piece of soul jazz, courtesy of Earland’s and Muhammad’s amazingly tight, dynamic interplay. Houston Person delivers a particularly hot solo. The Mighty Burner is a concise, swinging uptempo tune. Earland shows why he deserved the nickname of the tune’s title, ‘The Mighty Burner’.

The title track, loosely based on The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, is blessed with a firecracker beat of Idris Muhammad that kicks the listener out of his chair. Earland and the group pick up on it and groove deeply, with the exception of Melvin Sparks, who delivers a cumbersome opposition of a story. He’s better on More Today Than Yesterday, leaving out blurred, cheap frills and instead succinctly making lines meet. One thing in favor of Sparks, the guitarist possesses an individual, quirkily funky style.

Style is written all over Charles Earland’s Black Talk. Meaning repertoire consisting of hot funky originals and wonderful pop adaptations and above all, a delicious, staggering drive.

Don Patterson Tune Up! (Prestige 1964/1969)

Tune Up! is one more example of a record company’s policy to keep an interest in the career of a musician when he or she is absent with no apparent return ticket attached; in this case Don Patterson, whose hard road of drug abuse at the end of the sixties had become strewn thick with heavy rocks and barbed wire.

Don Patterson - Tune Up!


Don Patterson (organ), Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone A1-2), Sonny Stitt (tenor saxophone A2, B1), Houston Personn (tenor saxophone B2), George Coleman (tenor saxophone B2), Virgil Jones (trumpet B2), Grant Green (guitar B1), Billy James (drums A1-2, B1), Frankie Jones (B2)


Recorded on July 10 & August 25, 1964 and June 2 & September 15, 1969 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as PR 7852 in 1969

Track listing

Side A:
Just Friends
Flying Home
Side B:
Tune Up
Blues For Mom

It didn’t affect his playing on the title track, this album’s most interesting cut, a leftover from a September ’69 session that spawned two high-standard releases – Brothers 4 and Donnybrook. It would be hard to follow up Grant Green’s amazing solo on Miles Davis’ fast-paced composition – Green (credited as Blue Grant) showing no loss of remarkable straight jazz skills during his burgeoning funk jazz period – were it not that Don Patterson rises to the occasion, not tempted to flex his muscles in bragadocious manner, but instead stringing one dynamic, coolly delivered bop run to another, like multiple toy beads.

It’s difficult to make head or tail out of an album that presents four tunes from four different sessions, ranging from ‘64 to ’69. This nevertheless belies the good quality of these sessions, what with the standing of Patterson and sidemen such as Stitt, Ervin, Coleman and Jones, who confidently blow their way through standards and blues.

YouTube: Tune Up

Houston Person Chocomotive (Prestige 1965)

For a session from 1967, Chocomotive sounds curiously anachronistic. Its sound is vaguely reminiscent of the era of Lionel Hampton. It has its rocking moments and therefore was probably as attractive for the r&b and popular music crowd as were his other recordings of the period. However, although Person recorded for years with organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith, arguably he was in the proces of searching for the funky form (and format) that would see him play on a number of excellent organ and soul jazz releases and a couple of high profile side dates in the late sixties and early seventies.



Houston Person (tenor sax), Cedar Walton (piano), Alan Dawson (vibraharp), Bob Cranshaw (bass), Frankie Jones (drums)


on June 14, 1967 in NYC


as PR 7517 in 1967

Track listing

Side A:
You’re Gonna Hear From Me
Close Quarters
Girl Talk
Side B:
Since I Fell For You
Up, Up And Away

Houston Person plays a tough, spirited tenor, but often sounds detached from his sidemen. Chocomotive is something of a mixed bag and these guys generally jump off the saddle as cowboys without kettle. There is some nice balladry, Chocomotive has a rollicking Louis Jordan-type jive beat, but doesn’t really go anywhere, and a eccentric take on psychedelic movie tune More (of Pink Floyd fame) promises more than it delivers.

Alan Dawson, first and foremost a drummer, acts as a admirable vibraharp player, but hearing him handling the sticks himself would perhaps have been better attuned to this project. Cedar Walton, a gifted pianist who already had dates with Art Blakey, Max Roach and Art Farmer on his resume, ‘arpeggioes’ his way through blues ballad Since I Fell For You. The Fifth Dimension’s Up, Up And Away is the album’s most exciting melody, supported by a supreme Latin beat. It’s clearly in everyone’s bag. Finally the album takes off.