Various Artists

Signifying!: Funky Organ Grooves from the Big Apple

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With 16 songs and 77 minutes of music, this compilation of 1965-71 Hammond organ soul-jazz from the Prestige vaults is not only excellent value, but so well-selected as to rate among the finest soul-jazz compilations. Jack McDuff is the only name that will be immediately familiar to many general listeners; most of the disc is dedicated to lesser-known talents in the same vein, including Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Charles Earland, and more obscure names like Freddie Roach, Trudy Pitts, Don Patterson, and Leon Spencer. What elevates this above some similar anthologies is the focus upon cuts with really sharp, funky riffs, along with intelligent programming that provides a greater variety than you'll find on most soul-jazz comps. Highlights are hard to isolate in such strong company, but Trudy Pitts' suave run-through of "Take Five," Jack McDuff's propulsive "601 1/2 No. Poplar," Earland's furiously fast-paced "Milestones," and McDuff's incandescent version of "Walk On By" (arranged by Benny Golson) are standouts.

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