Gloria Coleman

Sings and Swings Organ

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Those who believe in the existence of the strict, commandment-enforcing organization called "the jazz police" also feel the veracity of the following story is unquestionable. One of the organization's strictest quartermasters was a mainstream jazz disc jockey whose voice was heard nightly across the length and breadth of Canada. It was his law that the second song of every jazz concert would have to be "Blue Bossa" by Kenny Dorham, otherwise a group would be found in violation of the jazz police. It was told that there was a version of this tune that had driven this man to tears, beyond his trivial dogma to a true understanding of the music. Gloria Coleman's Sings and Swings Organ, indeed, contains that version of "Blue Bossa," and it isn't even the best cut. That's only because over-familiarity is often easily vanquished by the thrill of digging up, by its dirty roots, something as obscure as a "Fungii Mama," a tremendous cover version of a Blue Mitchell tune. What better a monument to the concept of the jazz police than to this apparent heirloom released on a label actually called Mainstream. Genre fans will be familiar with the label and will be ready for the inevitable details of deterioration through the course of licensing and reissue deals. One track was somehow lopped off the already short playing time of this session on some of the later releases, as was the credit for guitarist Ted Dunbar. In the former case it is a particularly lousy decision; there is no reason to lose "Blues for Youse," an extemporization by this thrilling organist that shows off the chops of drummer Charles Davis -- no relation to the baritone saxophonist from the Sun Ra band. Through the entire program, which includes well-chosen standards and "Bugaloo for Ernie," another of Coleman's churning jam concoctions, the gutsy momentum of an organ-based rhythm section is provided with the additional harmonic interest of guitar and horns. Dunbar's playing, always worth a listen, had byzantine moments during this period, sometimes bordering on splatter due to the haste of the label's production processes. Trombonist Dick Griffin, a veteran of many a Rahsaan Roland Kirk session, is a good fellow to have on hand for mayhem such as this as well as the melodic moments. Tenor saxophonist James Anderson is an interesting player, and the fl├╝gelhorn of Ray Copeland, kind of in a Donald Byrd nest, adds just the right texture.

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