Jack Wilson The Jazz Organs (Vault 1963)

Slyly variating on the tenor battle, Jack Wilson came up with the idea of the organ orgy.

Jack Wilson - The Jazz Organs


Jack Wilson, Henry Cain & Genghis Kyle (organ), Gene Edwards (guitar A1-4, B2), John Gray (guitar B1, B3), Leroy Vinegar (bass), Donald Bailey (drums A1-4, B2), Philly Joe Jones (B1, B3)


in 1963


as Vault 1841 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
My Favorite Things
One Mint Julep
For Carl
Lonely Avenue
Side B:
Street Scene
Cain’s Able
Blues ‘N’ Boogie

Seldom mentioned, pianist Jack Wilson deserves continuous praise. I wrote about Wilson in 2018, reviewing Easterly Winds, his classy late period hard bop record on Blue Note in 1967. I remember musicians coming up to me after this review, acclaiming Wilson as a crackerjack jazz personality and thankful for the discovery of the half-forgotten pianist. I distinctly remember my own discovery of Jack Wilson, a second-hand CD copy of Ramblin’, a truly superb record of post-bop featuring vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Anyone has a vinyl copy to spare, raise your hand.

Before his career gathered steam in Los Angeles, the Chicago-born Wilson gained experience as pianist in Indiana, Chicago, Columbus and Atlantic City with diverse personalities as Nancy Wilson, Roland Kirk, Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons. Wilson started playing organ on the side as accompanist to Dinah Washington in the late 1950’s. Work was plentiful on the West Coast, partly in the tv and movie studios, and Wilson landed a regular spot in the premier L.A. big band of Gerald Wilson. Let’s not forget his contribution to Curtis Amy’s Katanga, kind of a cult record from another undervalued cat that enjoyed renewed interest last year with the acclaimed Tone Poet reissue series.

Wilson recorded for Atlantic, Blue Note and, in the 1970’s, Discovery. In the mid-1960’s, Wilson temporarily ended up on Vault, subsidiary of Atlantic Records. One of his albums was The Jazz Organs, oddity of an open-minded jack-of-all-trades. I also remember discovering this record very well, this time a slap of vintage vinyl, checking the line-up and seeing not one, two but three organists, thinking this must be a blast, perhaps quite literally must’ve been an earthquake, the walls of the studio crumbling under the stampede of three killer B3 beasts. Well, it turned out that the organists were playing two at a time, Wilson with, subsequently, Henry Cain and Genghis Kyle. There nonetheless is an involvement of plenty of organ jabs and kicks and cuts.

Wilson and Cain both grew up in Indiana, Wilson in Fort Wayne, Cain in Indianapolis, which is the birthplace of Leroy Vinegar, bassist on duty. Like Wilson, Cain and Vinegar primarily made their mark in Los Angeles. The group is completed by guitarist Gene Edwards and drummer Donald Bailey. Boy, they take no prisoners. Mutually inspiring, Wilson and Cain bop the blues on the riffs of One Mint Julep and Henry Cain’s Cain’s Abel and sparks fly. The nice ‘n’ easy bounce of My Favorite Things is spiced with urgent solo’s, Cain utilizing an extraordinary legato approach and Wilson ad-libbing in Coltrane fashion. You’ll notice a slight variation of sound, which distinguishes one from the other.

Genghis Kyle (how’s that for a name) also employs a different, more vibrating sound and tells a great blues story climaxing with marvelous, sweeping chords on the ballad Street Scene. Wilson and Kyle’s band consists of guitarist John Gray, Vinegar and Philly Joe Jones, whose typically explosive intro kickstarts a burnin’ version of Dizzy Gillespie’s Blue ‘N’ Boogie, rephrased as Blues ‘N’ Boogie on this killer rare platter of organ jazz.

The Jazz Organs” is on YouTube, starting with *My Favorite Things here.