Featuring Kenny Burrell
Organist Jack McDuff has long had a powerful style and the two former LPs that are combined on this single CD offer some strong examples of his accessible playing. In both cases McDuff is joined by guitarist Kenny Burrell (in fact one of the two sets was originally under Burrell's name), drummer Joe Dukes and occasionally Ray Barretto on congas. In addition Harold Vick is on tenor for most selections and Eric Dixon guests on tenor and flute during three songs. Highlights include a driving "How High the Moon," "Love Walked In" and a pair of original blues: "Smut" and "Our Miss Brooks." McDuff and Burrell work together quite well. This 76-minute CD is easily recommended to fans of the jazz organ.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Jack McDuff is a prime example of the swift ascendancy of the hammond organ in contemporary jazz. He is probably the most gifted and accomplished of the jazz organists to appear in the wake of the revolutionary changes in approach to this once-maligned instrument wrought by Jimmy Smith, who appeared like a meteor on the scene in the mid-fifties.
Not that Brother Jack is a copy-cat. By no means - he has his own thing going. But Jimmy wrought such definitive changes in jazz organ playing that all organists can now be divided into three categories: those who played before Jimmy and haven't dug him; those who played before Jimmy and caught on - and those who came up after Jimmy. Brother Jack belongs in the latter group - heads it, in fact. And the number of swinging organ players coming up these days is mildly staggering.
Jack McDuff played bass before concentrating on the organ (most others arrived via the piano - a distant ancestor). This makes him exceptionally limber in the foot-department. In fact, you won't miss the bassplayer on this set - not as long as Brother Jack keeps hittin' on four. The dexterity required to be a boss organist is matched only by that required to be a drummer. Needless to say, Jack is a swinger. He never lets the instrument go soggy. He has that feeling for dynamics without which the organ can become menacing (if you've ever heard a mediocre organist turned loose on "Ebb Tide" you'll know what I mean). Jack is clean and light, though he can turn on the full juice when required - and he stays clean when that happens.
The proof of a musician's merit is acceptance by his peers. When Jack McDuff is on the bandstand, the cats come by with their horns. He general'es an infectuous groove - the kind of jazz feeling that makes everybody feel at home. Have you ever noticed how the feeling of the musk being played affects the mood of the place? Well, when Jack McDuff is playing, you can see a lot of smiling faces all around. Maybe that's not everybody's criterion of good music, but it is a legitimate one , . , and one which jazz forgets at its own peril.
The music on this set will not put you in a way-out groove . . . it's down home all the way. It's a good party record: those who like to dance will want to, and those who don't feel like shaking a leg can (I almost said must) tap their feet. It's not the kind of record that kills conversation - nor is it the kind that requires it. It is occasional music in the best sense of the word - music for a happy occasion.
Brother Jack is in good company here. Guitarist Kenny Burrell, who came to New York from Detroit some years back, is a young master of his instrument. His fine musicianship, pleasant ways and flexibility have made him a much-demanded sessioneer in the Manhattan record studios, and he has led his own swinging groups at regular intervals around town as well. (He also had a featured spot on Broadway in "Bye, Bye Birdie" when he was in the show's pit band). His fine tone, impeccable swing and flowing ideas make him a definitive asset to this album. Drummer Joe Dukes, a McDuff regular,, who will be heard from, keeps fine time and has some nice 'heights" on "How High The Moon." Of the two tenorists, Erie Dixon will be well known to followers of Count Basie, of whose swinging squad he has been a charter member since taking Budd Johnson's place two years ago. To say that he has filled Budd's shoes so capably is as fine a compliment as any tenorman could ask for. His warm-toned styles is in the great tradition that began with Coleman Hawkins, and any resemblance to Paul Gonsalves and Billy Mitchell is probably based in the love they all share for Don Byas. Harold Vick is a younger player, and the Coltrane - influence in his work is marked, especially when he gets going on his own "Our Miss Brooks." It's a matter of harmonics as well as intonation and over-all solo shape. Together, they get a nice section-like blend. The varying lineups give the set a feeling of relaxed casualness (that's not at all syno-nimous with lacksadaisickality) which brings to mind a night at, say, Minton's Playhouse when McDuff is in charge. And those are good nights.
Our Miss Brooks, a blues-original by Harold Vick, gets off in a soul-groove from the start. Vick opens with a strong back-beat behind him. Burrell takes charge with authority, and when Brother Jack comes in he announces himself with all stops out. Don't miss Kenny's 'comping in the ensemble-out.
Somethin' Slick is introduced by the tenors in tandem. The tempo is nicely up. Jack's first solo kicks plenty, whereupon the tenors enter in octaves. Jack's second solo gets a good boot from Kenny, who follows on bis own. Dixon's solo has nice definition, and Vick joins him for the finals.
Smut is a tongue-in-cheek descriptive title to this funky blues-riff, repeated with hypnotic effect. Jack's solo gets right into the groove, and Kenny sustains it. Then Jack makes the organ talk, with some brilliant footwork going. Exeunt omnes.
How High The Moon used to be known as the "national anthem of bebop." Played so much, it had to be shelved for a while, but it's a pretty tune and good to hear once again. McDuff sets the fast pace with a swinging introduction, whereupon the two tenors pick up a riff which sounds both fresh and familiar - the secret of all good jazz riffs. Organ and guitar solos are followed by, in order, Dixon (with the Gonsalves flavor) and Vick (Dexter and Trane). McDuff's second solo cooks, and his "eights" with Joe Dukes make more hay. Then Jack brings back the theme, and the riff returns us home.
It's A Wonderful World is one of the many tunes based on the same simple but effective set of changes (Ja Da, Doxy, How Coma You Do Me Like You Do). McDuff kicks off, Kenny takes his finest solo of the set. Jack comes on with the throttle way out (or is it in - I don't drive . . .), then chords nicely into the theme and takes us safely home. A happy ending to a happy album of unpretentious, mellow 1963 jazz - of a kind that maybe doesn't get much critical acclaim but yet is very much part of the whole scene. You might do a lot worse than spending some time tapping your foot to Brother Jack McDuff's jazz.
-Dan Morgenstern (March 1963) (notes reproduced from Prestige 7265.)
The great pianist, Hank Jones was quite right when he said of Kenny Burrell, 'He has all the technique, all the ideas, all the spirit that a great jazzman needs. He's reached a certain plateau now; his ideas flow freely. He's intelligent, sensitive-all you could ask for in a musician. It's always a pleasure to play with him.'
Hank Jones has expressed the ideas which many of Kenny's fellow musicians have thought about their tall, slim and handsome colleague. Kenny has always drawn the praise of the musicians with whom he has worked and the applause of audiences where his music's been played.
Kenny Burrell's interest in music started in his home town, Detroit, Michigan. His father, William was not a professional musician, but he was constantly noodling with a banjo which was always in sight in the Burrell household. Kenny's older brother, William Jr., picked up the guitar, which, in turn, he passed along to Kenny with a large hunk of encouragement thrown in. At six, Kenny would spend a lot of time near the family radio where he picked out the music of the bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Jimmy Lunceford. After a bit, Kenny decided that he wanted to switch to tenor saxophone; the expense of buying the horn being beyond the budget of the Burrell household, he found that he had to stick with his trusty guitar.
'I really made up my mind to play then,' Burrell said of his experiences in 1943.' I bought my first guitar and got real serious about it. Billy was in the Army,' he continued to tell Ira Gitler in Down Beat of August 1st, 1964. 'He sent me five dollars and I had five, so I bought a ten dollar guitar.' After his brother, Bill got out of the Army, he joined Kenny and another brother, Donald in three guitar sessions. Brother Bill, finding little work for guitarists in Detroit, switched to bass, leaving Kenny to carry on the family guitar tradition since Donald never turned professional. After a year and a halts' study at Wayne University, Kenny returned to work with his brother, Billy.
A big influence on Kenny's playing was Charlie Christian. 'He played the guitar the way I thought it should sound. At the time I hadn't heard a lot of different kinds of jazz, but, to me you couldn't say any more. Later on, I heard Oscar Moore, and he had a great impact. What he got out of the instrument as a whole impressed me-not only the single-line solos but in chords, melody and harmony. He had one of the greatest harmonic conceptions of any guitarist I've ever heard. And he was able to get it out of his instrument.' Commenting about the relationship between the sound of Charlie Christian and the styles of many tenor saxophonists', Kenny goes on. 'I don't know, but he had certain sounds he wanted to get out of the instrument, and they were of such a force within him that he overcame the limitations that make it sound a certain way, but if you have a strong enough feeling, the limits of the instrument will go and the feeling will come through.'
The history of Kenny Burrell since he arrived in New York some eight years ago can be chronicled through his recordings with such musicians as Thad Jones, a fellow Detroiter; Kenny Dorham; Paul Chambers, still another product of Detroit; Dizzy Gillespie, in 1951; Oscar Peterson during 1955, replacing Herb Ellis; and a stint with Benny Goodman in '57. Since then Kenny has branched out with his own combo, along with a lot of studio work around New York with practically every musician in the business, Kenny's co-workers on this album, the nucleus of the Brother Jack McDuff Quartet are well enough known to the public with scores of albums under the leadership of its leader organist Jack McDuff and with its various members. Ray Barretto, not a regular member of the quartet is nevertheless a member of the Prestige catalogue of swinging percussionists.
The album opens up with Brother Jack McDuff wailing on beat one with his own composition, Grease Monkey while the rhythm surges and bounces behind him, A perfect album opener.
The Breeze And I has Kenny stretching out after a mambo statement of a theme which has been seldom used in jazz. Then Brother Jack comes on with some subdued melodic choruses of his own, while the rhythm sways gently.
Ray Barretto and Joe Dukes engage in lively by-play before Harold Vick and his lusty tenor comes in to state Horace Stiver's, Nica's Dream, after which Brother Jack smokes through a few dancing choruses with the drums grooving behind him. Then Kenny jumps in to play a few heated choruses of his own.
Arno Walker's Call It Stormy Monday, is as soulful and blue as any "stormy day-after" blues on record. McDuff really sounds mournful as does Kenny who takes over after Brother Jack has had his say.
The brother's George and Ira Gershwin wrote a classic when they wrote Love Walked In, which lets all the cats stretch out and wail. McDuff jumps right in to set off some blistering ideas in front of the churning rhythm backing. Dig how well Joe Dukes and Ray Barretto work behind the soloists. Kenny walks in to say something of his own. Listen to his delicate yet swinging touch, A surprise soloist turns up next, wailing on flute. It's Count Basie's muIti-talented tenor saxophonist, Eric "Big Daddy" Dixon who wails in with a light and breezy flute solo. Harold Vick picks up next with his tenor and plays some deep-throated lines that really jump and rock. Joe Dukes and McDuff exchange some ideas before the closing theme.
Singer, Frankie Laine and his pianist/accompanist, Carl Fisher wrote a very soulful standard when they turned out Well Be Together Again, which Kenny and Brother Jack treat with real tenderness. Dig the restraint and taste with which Jack plays his organ. McDuff deserves all the recognition he's been receiving lately. Knowing the people at Prestige, Kenny and Jack Will Be Together Again.
-Bruno Wanz (September 1964) (notes reproduced from Prestige 7347)