Soul-jazz, to be honest, was often a lot more jazz than soul, and often bland fusion the further the genre progressed into the 1970s. The Nineteenth Whole's only album, however, is a refreshing instance in which the styles were pretty much mixed with equal measure, and done well in a mostly instrumental format. The five extended five- to ten-minute soul numbers had grooves and licks that were easy on the ears, yet also unrolled with a natural and reasonably earthy funk swing. The trio that comprised the Nineteenth Whole (vibist/singer Billy Wooten, organist/singer Emanuel Riggins, and drummer "Mad" Harold Cardwell) got a lot of help from guest guitarist (and general ace session man) Cornell Dupree, who took all the solos, with guest guitarist Billy Johnson chipping in as well. It helps, too, that the group members had good taste in the material they selected to cover, including Sly Stone's "You Caught Me Smilin' Again," War's "Slippin' into Darkness," and the Jackson 5's "Lookin' Through the Windows." "Slippin' into Darkness" might be the highlight here, with its tight interplay between vibes, glowing organ, and burning, occasionally wah-wahed guitar, but those qualities are found throughout most of this easygoing yet dynamic record. It's recommended to those who want solid commercial early-'70s soul-jazz with integrity, and was reissued on CD in 2006 by Westbound/Ace, though the packaging is pretty low-profile, lacking any of the historical liner notes that Ace usually includes on its re-releases.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger