Ben Sidran

Nick's Bump

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Groove-oriented jazz didn't start with the organ combos and soul-jazz groups of the '60s and '70s; plenty of grooving occurred with Dixieland in the '10s and '20s and swing in the '30s and early to mid-'40s. But soul-jazz did remind the jazz world that it was still OK for an improviser to groove -- that not everything had to be as complex and demanding as John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" or Sonny Rollins' "Oleo." And those soul-jazz and jazz-funk grooves of the '60s and '70s continue to hold up well after all these years, which is why Ben Sidran celebrates that era on this 2003 date. Although Sidran is known for his singing, he favors an instrumental setting on Nick's Bump; this time, Sidran uses the Hammond organ and the electric piano to get his points across -- and he savors the funkier side of post-swing jazz whether he is embracing Sonny Clark's "Blue Minor," Donald Byrd's "Black Jack," or three Eddie Harris compositions ("Listen Here," "Mean Greens," and "Cryin' Blues"). If Nick's Bump sounds dated, it is dated in the positive sense -- dated as in remembering how rewarding a particular era was and being faithful to the spirit of that era. Nick's Bump recalls a time when soul-jazz players realized that jazz was losing more and more listeners to R&B and rock -- and that the only way to win over those Marvin Gaye, Rolling Stones, and James Brown fans was to groove and be accessible. Soul-jazz, unfortunately, didn't restore the mass appeal that jazz enjoyed during the Great Depression and World War II, but it was a noble effort -- one that Sidran happily remembers on Nick's Bump, which falls short of essential but is still an infectious, enjoyably funky demonstration of what he can do in an instrumental setting.

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