Johnny Griffin / Matthew Gee

Soul Groove

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The music seldom reaches ignition point on this undistinguished 1965 session. Co-leader Johnny Griffin has many more valuable items in his discography. While not as well-known as Griffin, the same can be said of trombonist Matthew Gee, whose resumé includes work with Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington and whose style straddles swing and bop (this was actually one of only two dates where Gee recorded as a leader).

Soul Groove disappoints in several areas, including the writing that seldom surpasses head-arrangement status. Drummer Art Taylor and bassist Aaron Bell plug away purposefully, but in a mix that blunts the personalities of their playing. The co-leaders' contributions also pass in a blur. Tenor and trombone front lines can work, but here the tone of the two instruments is too similar; Griffin and Gee's solos tend to drift and smear over one another.

Organist John Patton is on three tracks, pianist Hank Jones on four, and Jones, again, is on organ for one track. The presence of Jones and Patton looks promising, but the shuffling between the two and between organ and piano actually adds to the session's lack of focus. Jones has occasional moments of sparkle at the piano, but like his rhythm section colleagues, he often suffers from indifferent treatment in the mix. The best tracks end up being the three with Patton, as all hands settle in for the familiar pleasures of organ combo-style blowing.

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