Charles Kynard - Reelin' With The Feelin'

Charles Kynard Reelin’ With The Feelin’ (Prestige 1969)

I first became aware of organist Charles Kynard a long time ago, when listening to a Tom Waits record, Blue Valentines. Greasy, sharp-as-a-knife organ injections were the cherries on top of Romeo Is Bleeding, one of that jazzy, theatrical shuffles that the incomparable growler and storyteller Tom Waits brings with so much zest. Ever quick to scroll through sleeve info, I bumped into the name of Kynard.

Charles Kynard - Reelin' With The Feelin'

Personnel

Charles Kynard (organ), Wilton Felder (tenor saxophone), Joe Pass (guitar), Carol Kaye (electric bass), Paul Humphrey (drums)

Recorded

on August 11, 1969 in Los Angeles, California

Released

as PR 7688 in 1969

Track listing

Side A:
Reelin’ With The Feelin’
Soul Reggae
Slow Burn
Side B:
Boogalooin’
Be My Love
Stomp


My mind went elsewhere, as minds often have the inkling to do. Yet, Kynard had stayed in the back of my mind and when I started digging organ jazz of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson and Lonnie Smith, out of the ditch climbed Kynard as well. What I learned is that the fact that Kynard did a Waits date is part of the proof that the organist’s nature was ambidextrous. Kynard is best known for his groovy funk and blues recordings on Prestige and Mainstream. But he also was a regular attributor to Hollywood productions and played gospel in church as well.

Reelin’ With The Feelin’ is Kynard’s third release on Prestige and a fitting example of his blues and soul jazz personality. It has an interesting line-up including guitarist Joe Pass – not often heard in such surroundings – The Jazz Crusaders’ tenorist Wilton Felder and ace studio bassist, Carol Kaye. Re-listening this album only for Kaye’s delicious dry, plucky sound and articulate style, is, as I now know for a fact, a far from weird effort, but on the contrary, very worthwhile.

The three longest cuts of the album – Reelin’ With The Feelin’, Slow Burn and Boogalooin’ – written by arranger Richard Fritz, are fresh funkblues jams. Slow Burn is the highlight. The tight rhythm consisting of tacky drums and a rumbling bass figure so deep it makes you wonder how deep the ocean is in Carol Kaye’s mind, sets things in motion. From then on things are hard to pull to a stop. Kynard builds his solo well, veering from crunchy bass notes to burning rubber-phrases in the upper register. Felder puts in a yearning statement and throws in squeaky and honky twists. Joe Pass produces a mix of funky licks and fast, tricky phrases that travel beyond the confines of the pentatonic blues format. Ever thus, Slow Burn has to come to an end, and it does with a humorous stretch of notes by Kynard.

Predictably, Carol Kaye’s Soul Reggae is a reggae-type tune. It’s a charming ditty that bounces along merrily. Is Kaye the first to incorporate reggae into a jazz format? She might well be. In 1969, reggae wasn’t as yet the big thing it would become when Bob Marley got into the picture. Be My Love is a nice Latin tune. Kynard’s solo is a throat grabber, containing swift, fiery and freewheelin’ phrases, occasional outbursts and repeated r&b attacks. Stomp, written by Wilton Felder, is a variation of Dizzy Gillespie’s Blue ‘n’ Boogie. The drums fail to swing, but the immaculate unisono figures each couple plays behind the given soloist give it the necessary bite. As you may have noticed, Kynard didn’t bring any tunes to this session. You’ll hear, however, that it doesn’t effect the very pleasant and funky proceedings.

Charles Kynard’s date with Tom Waits took place in 1978. He died on July 8, 1979. There’s no such thing as an appropriate passing, but Kynard’s comes close. He died while playing his home organ.

The Jazz Crusaders - Lighthouse '69

The Jazz Crusaders Lighthouse ’69 (World Pacific 1969)

The succesful fourth live recording of The Jazz Crusaders at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California (those of 1962, ’66 and ’68 also gained a considerable degree of popularity) is characterised by a warm sound and an exciting live atmosphere. And, above all, by two exhilarating covers of The Beatles’ Get Back and Tony Joe White’s Willie And Laura Mae Jones.

The Jazz Crusaders - Lighthouse '69

Personnel

Wilton Felder (tenor saxophone), Wayne Henderson (trombone), Joe Sample (piano, electric piano), Buster Williams (bass), Stix Hooper (drums)

Recorded

in 1969, live at The Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, California

Released

as WP ST-20165 in 1969

Track listing

Side A:
Get Back
It’s Got To Be Real
Willie And Laura Mae Jones
Ruby P’Gonia
Side B:
It’s Your Thing
Inside The Outside
Reflections
Svenska Flicka


The Jazz Crusaders had the advantage of five members able to write on demand. (or four and a half, since Buster Williams was an occasional member) Their original compositions on Lighthouse ’69 are noteworthy despite their similarity of rhythm and melodic structure – with the exception of Buster Williams’ energetic Ruby P’Gonia. The solo’s from tenorist Wilton Felder and trombonist Wayne Henderson aren’t spectacular but solid and close to the blues. And close to bebop as well, as is evidenced by Wayne Henderson’s extended quote of Charlie Parker’s Now’s The Time (itself a variation of the traditional The Hucklebuck) in Inside The Outside.

What makes Lighthouse ’69 a classic album are two pop and soul covers. Their version of The Isley Brothers’ It’s Your Thing doesn’t belong to this group. It’s not the standout funk demonstration you would expect from a group of that high standard. But dig, if you will, The Jazz Crusaders’ intoxicating excursions into pop and country soul. The rhythm section informs both Get Back and Willie And Laura Mae Jones with an irresistable groove – heavier than the original beat – which is a big part of its attraction. Another part is pianist Joe Sample, who changes to electric piano for these tunes and whose supportive and solo statements are arresting.

Get Back contains short, tacky tenor and trombone solo’s that, considering the fact that there isn’t much chordal room to play with, intelligently play with the melody, and are embellished by more than one passionate squeal; it’s a first-class steamroller you wish wouldn’t eventually have to pull to a stop. The horn sections of Willie And Laura Mae Jones, a gritty backwater song if ever there was one, beg you to get your ass out of that shack and shake that thang.

Two bona fide soul jazz classics pretty much destined to make you shout for more, and then some.

YouTube: Willie And Laura Mae Jones

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The Jazz Crusaders Tough Talk (Pacific Jazz 1963)

The Jazz Crusaders. What’s in a name? Whether self-consciously or on a subliminal level, crusading they did; throughout the sixties they pushed the boundaries by incorporating gospel, tin pan alley and Beatles into jazz and popularising it in a major way. This is far from a downgrade on their part. Indeed, I don’t think that I’ll be the last to consider them the West Coast equivalent of The Jazz Messengers or Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet. Maybe not solo-wise, but their group sound and interplay certainly carries the kind of excitement that these iconic groups brought.

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Personnel

Wilton Felder (tenor), Wayne Henderson (trombone), Joe Sample (piano, harpsichord), Stix Hooper (drums), Bobby Haynes (bass)

Recorded

February 13 & 19, 1963 at Pacific Jazz Studios, Los Angeles

Released

as PJ-68 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Deacon Brown
Turkish Black
Brahms’ Lullaby
Boopie
Side B:
Tough Talk
No Name Samba
Lazy Canary
Lonely Horn
Brother Bernard


Tough talk is The Jazz Crusaders’ fourth release on Pacific Jazz Records and a very rewarding session. (it is not to be confused with 1973’s Blue Note compilation of the same name) With the exception of Brahms’ Lullaby, all tunes are originals. Most of them revolve around exceptionally playful themes that bookend vigorous and thoughtful blowing. These gentlemen, together from their teens and still barely in their twenties, play with youthful abundance. On Turkish black, an Eastern flavored, quixotic composition on which Felder’s and Wayne Henderson’s interplay between tenor and trombone works particularly well, the very articulate tenor of composer Wilton Felder exhibits an urgency that is reminiscent of John Coltrane. Although Felder is very much his own man, this particular aspect of his playing would come to the fore especially on 1967’s Uh Huh.

Title track Tough Talk is a very catchy blues. It bounces merrily and Joe Sample’s harpsichord gives it a distinctive flavor. It’s not really possible to use the harpsichord in a percussive, down-home fashion. This might be the reason they reworked it on their 1965 album Chili Con Soul. And tastefully so.

Of course in the seventies they would give full measure to pop and funk as The Crusaders. Fame came with it and as an apex to their career stands their 1979 hit collaboration with Randy Crawford, Street Light. High standard entries in the mainstream but not my cup of tea.

YouTube: Tough Talk