The Groove ORGANization

Gene Ludwig

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The Groove ORGANization Review

by Dave Nathan

Pittsburgh is known as a spawning ground for prominent jazz artists. While many left to try their hand in New York City or the recording studios of Hollywood and Los Angeles, some stayed behind to keep the jazz flame burning brightly. Hammond B3 master and Jimmy Smith disciple Gene Ludwig is one of those who remained keeping the flame lit with his burning organ play. Working within a rather uncommon trio configuration of organ, guitar, and drums, Ludwig, with help from his friends, applies that special jazz/blues/soul sound only the Hammond can create, to a mixed play list of ten tunes. The listener gets a good feel for the shape this session will take from the album's opening cut -- a spicy, down-home "Chitlins con Carne" which lays the foundation for the passionate playing that characterizes this CD. Bob DeVos' medium-amped guitar shares the spotlight with Ludwig on this cut, as well as on several others. As much as any instrument and more than most, the Hammond gives the impression that the playing is spontaneous rather than arranged, especially when in the hands of an expert like Ludwig. Listen to him explore another master of jazz-soul, Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," and then segue into an understated (or at least as understated as one can get on the organ) rendition of Miles Davis' "All Blues." "You've Changed" brings to the fore romantic ballad capabilities as Ludwig gives this warhorse a delicate, melodic, resonant interpretation. The Groove ORGANization is Ludwig's seventh album as a leader and is among his finest. In addition to a stimulating personal statement, the album goes a long way to assure that the Hammond organ will continue to be an enduring instrumental voice in jazz. Recommended.

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