Jimmy McGriff

McGriff Avenue

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Still relaxed and wailing on his modified Hammond XB-3 organ, Jimmy McGriff continued to manufacture solid soul-jazz tracks in the 21st century -- although these sessions caused him a bit more trouble than most due to circumstances beyond his control. Originally booked for noon on September 11, 2001, the sessions for this album obviously had to be rescheduled for the following month -- and as a result, the two dates have somewhat different personnel. The main difference between the two lies in the drumming; the work of Don Williams on three tracks is not as firmly anchored in the McGriff soul-jazz groove as those powered by the inevitable Bernard Purdie (who had to catch a plane to Spain after the first session). In any case, "McGriff Avenue" cruises easily through mostly blues country, highlighted by a few inspired remakes of early McGriff hits like the classic 1963 shuffle, "All About My Girl," and the fatback funk of 1968's "The Worm." Even the predictably gospel-drenched 6/8-meter treatment of "America, the Beautiful" -- though a conspicuous nod to the patriotic mood of the time -- was something that McGriff had recorded before. The ten-and-three-quarter-minute workout on Jimmy Forrest's "Soul Street" is pure shuffling blues, nothing fancy, with everyone getting plenty of solo time -- and the title track harks back to the percolating funk grooves of James Brown's JB's circa 1969 ("Give It Up or Turn It Loose" comes to mind). Ronnie Cuber bumps around agreeably on baritone sax, the tenor sax spots are shared by Bill Easley and Gordon Beadle, Melvin "Sparks" Hassan and Rodney Jones alternate on guitar, and Wilbur Bascomb is the funky electric bass player throughout. Though this CD doesn't have the ecstatic super-grooves of some of McGriff's earlier milestones, it still keeps the customers satisfied.

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