VOICES Notes and news on Digital releases
21 OCT 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Brother Jack (Prestige, 1999), from the Legends Of Acid Jazz series, combines Brother Jack McDuff's 1960 debut as a leader, while still a member of Willis "Gator" Jackson's jazz-blues combo, together with the Hammond B-3 master's first release as head of his own band, four years later.
Every musician plays with funky blue passion for Brother Jack. For sure, McDuff could pick guitar players. His interplay with Gator's soulful guitar man Bill Jennings highlights the first set. The pair answers then swaps calls in the eponymous "Brother Jack," jumps the blues in "Organ Grinder's Swing" and "Mack 'n' Duff," and grinds the slow "Light Blues," awash in that classically funky, 1960s guitar-organ combo sound.
The second set showcases McDuff and fledgling groove master Grant Green in more challenging rhythms and structures, as you'd expect from music four years down the road. Green's single note slashes nearly shred the Hammond man's "McDuff Speaking" and a "Sanctified Waltz" that sounds more funk-ified than sanctified. Tenor saxophonist Harold Vick burns these rhythms with his own howling wind, too. Yet the ensemble glides in unison through "A Smooth One" which is precisely that.
Green proved to be an enduring soul-jazz sideman for McDuff and many of the genre's masters well into his own career. Dig him with McDuff on Honeydripper (1961, newly available as an RVG Remaster) plus the retrospective The Prestige Years ('92). Even after Green, McDuff would continue his guitarist hot streak with George Benson and Pat Martino.