Young-Holt Unlimited

Wack Wack

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Like an amoeba, the Ramsey Lewis Trio split into two virtually identical units in 1966, with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac "Red" Holt forming their own soul-jazz piano trio. Then known as the Young Holt Trio, this may have been the only major trio to feature the bassist and drummer, but not the pianist (!), in the group's name, probably to capitalize on their recently lucrative association with Lewis. In any case, the pianist was Hysear Don Walker, who basically labors in a pleasing Lewis vein on their debut album, which winningly continues the Lewis formula of translating recent pop hit material ("Monday, Monday," "Sunny," "Strangers in the Night," etc.) and a few jazz standards like "Girl Talk" and "Song for My Father" into the Chicago soul piano trio groove. Although Walker can't help but be the dominant melodic and sole harmonic force here, the irrepressible Young nevertheless manages to steal the spotlight whenever he can, with sly pizzicato and arco bass leads, occasional casual vocals, and blithe-spirited scatting (his "You Know That I Love You" amounts to an homage to Slam Stewart). Their first single, "Wack Wack," a number 40 pop hit, is a funny, blues-based riff with the band honking out the title words on cue -- and the flip side of the single, the spiritual "This Little Light of Mine," is an irreverently joyful scatted takeoff. A highly enjoyable debut, worth combing through the bins for.

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