Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B
McGriff, often considered jazz's finest organist after Jimmy Smith, always recorded his fair share of R&B and cheese, and considered himself more of a bluesman than a jazzman, anyway. As it is, the cheese has aged better t... more »
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McGriff, often considered jazz's finest organist after Jimmy Smith, always recorded his fair share of R&B and cheese, and considered himself more of a bluesman than a jazzman, anyway. As it is, the cheese has aged better than most of his music and he is no doubt raking in the sampling bucks as tracks such as "The Worm" (not included here) pop up on many a rapper's c.v. Funk used to be about authenticity of the street; now it's about the plushness of the lounge, and this album, originally recorded in 1969 for one of Sonny Lester's many labels, is a cornerstone of blaxploitation/cop show jazz. That, in itself, will tell you whether you'd like it. --D. Strauss
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Keep it heavy and funky will follow
Mr. Julian Mascarenhas | Herts, UK | 03/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ahh Jimmy McGriff. The man who at the age of 16, having played the bass, the drums, alto sax and some other instruments, was still trying to find `his' instrument. In the course of looking he had jammed as a session musician with some pretty big names, names he would learn the essentials of moving a crowd from. But it took the invention of the Hammond B3 to finally give Jimmy an instrument that "would push me more than I could push it."
It's worth understanding why he chose this instrument over others in order to understand the Jimmy McGriff style and why it sounds so funky. See the point is the Hammond B3 has the ability, with very few instruments accompanying, to sound like it is part of a much bigger band than it really is. In fact it has the ability to sound like a big band on its own, the type of big band that Count Basie and Duke Ellington used to lead. These were the sounds that really rocked Jimmy's musical world. While the whole jazz scene was being tempted and shocked in equal measures by the rock world, Jimmy kept thinking of that old, big band sound all along. And he carved out his own distinctive style with such an ear. This album's sleeve doesn't list the players, it simply says `unknown' but if Jimmy's earlier bands are anything to go by it would have been recorded by just four musicians - Guitar, Alto or Tenor Sax, Drums and Jimmy plays bass with his foot peddles and/or his left hand and melody with his right - yet the sound is expansive, rich and full bodied for four instruments.
There were other factors why he chose the Hammond. His friend Shirley Scott (famed for a rip roaring version of the Isley Bros' "It's Your Thing") was literally tearing up every joint she played in with her heavy, funky, racey Hammond sounds. Then there were others who were at it: Wild Bill Davis (a pioneer of the organ), Bill Doggett (a massive hit monster in his own right) and Jimmy Smith (who had laid down many, many records by the time this Jimmy released his first) were three for starters. So competition and the scene played a part too.
Another reason is that this instrument brought some of the churchy gospel sound to the music Jimmy would make. This was an instinct which had largely been inspired by Ray Charles, mixing Gospel with R'n'B, or `The Devil's Music' as it was known to the church going communities which many stars hailed from. The Hammond siphoned the sound of the church into the nightclubs and this was part of the feel Jimmy absolutely needed for his compositions. In fact his first recording was a cover of Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman", a song many credit with having pioneered the Gospel meets R'n'B style, which would later become Funk.
So how was Jimmy with his chosen instrument? Well McGriff is not famed for being a great technician, so those expecting Jimmy Smith style flamboyance will not find it. What is to be found though is a precision in composition and inflection which really makes Jimmy McGriff's trademark style - Heavy and Funky Jazz. It's all about being heavy and the funky comes with it. He often played bass twice, with both foot and hand or on two keyboards simultaneously, so that is why it sounded extra heavy. Listening to this album you'll hear how the instruments are actually quite restrained and economise much. Jimmy's Hammond is the benchmark here. Most tracks have him just lightly licking a touch here and there while the rest of the band play the main tune but the effect is bold and instantaneous. His presence expands the sound immeasurably but there isn't a lot to it most of the time. Of course there are moments when he lets it fly like on the funny, funky, racing version of "Spinning Wheel" and that's something to behold given the simultaneous limb playing going on.
The overtly funkier tracks on this album are arranged by Horace Ottis (I think that's his name). These are heavier on the bass and more traditionally funky but it is McGriff's own compositions which are funky in more surprising ways. They sound less like a four piece band for starters: "Spear for Moondog pts 1 & 2" and "Birdwave" for example. These show case the big band touch of Jimmy's and provide hard evidence that Count Basie was both a dear friend and mentor.
Something else worth mentioning is that Jimmy McGriff had released over ten other records by the time "Electric Funk" came out and had been with three other labels before this release. This was his very first recording for Blue Note records and is commonly held as his greatest. This is an outstanding piece of composing and playing owing to all the reasons listed above and has influenced the jazz, funk, hip-hop and reggae world's ever since it first came out. For a man that needed encouragement to get out and play in the early days this is truly accomplished and bold musicianship and very Heavy Electric Funk."
Miguel Angel Martinez Rolland | Madrid Spain | 09/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This record is something else. It is a steamin' funky LP that really caught me from the very first time I heard it. (I couldn't stop playing it again and again.) I had been looking for a record like this for a long time! Superb rythm section (the drums sound fantastic!), funky grooves all along, killer horns, and the magnificent Jimmy McGriff at his best. Definitely, this is the best McGriff album I have ever heard, but it is also one of the best FUNK LPs I know.
Some tracks stand out, like 'Spear for Moondog' (why on earth did they insert a fade-out when the band is rockin' REAL hard?)or 'Back On The Track', but there is not one bad or average song in the entire album. The album is quite short (you wish some tracks were a little longer), but I find myself always playing it more than once.
One thing about this album is that the bridges of the songs are awesome. The arrangements are extraordinary! Generally, the songs begin laying the groove, but things get really hot when the bridge comes. You realize how good a song is by then, but not if you only listen to the 15 first seconds. All in all, this record is perfect for party time and dancing... If your body doesn't move to this record, I suggest you go and see a doctor."
Good funky ghetto music
Andre M. | Mt. Pleasant, SC United States | 07/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WOW! This is good funky ghetto music. Although I did not hear this until recently, this reminds me of the summers I would visit my relatives in Harlem in the early 70s and of hanging out with friends at the playground of PS 28 and the sights and sounds of that time and place. This is a perfect example of music painting pictures in your mind without words. God bless Jimmy McGriff."