VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
04 JAN 12 ANNE FARNSWORTH
"Brother" Jack McDuff was a jazz/soul organist who released over 50 albums as a leader as well as many as a sideman. Silken Soul was recorded the mid-'60s, McDuff's prime.
A contemporary of Booker T. Jones and mentor to Joey DeFrancesco, McDuff's trios and quartets contained the cream of the hard bop and soul artists working in that era. Silken Soul features tenor players Red Holloway and Harold Vick and was arranged by another tenor great, Benny Golson.
Also featured is guitarist Pat Martino, who was playing with a lot of organ trios at the time, including Jimmy Smith and Charles Earland. A young George Benson also makes an appearance on two tracks, "How High The Moon" and "Silk 'n' Soul." Being hired to join McDuff's band jump-started Benson's career and was the beginning of a long and successful collaboration.
McDuff stands out among his fellow B3-ers in that he was equally comfortable with hot-tempo'd hard bop and groove feels as he was with straight ahead swing and Afro-Caribbean beats. "Haitian Lady," the cleverly titled "Song Of The Soul" and the movie theme, "More," sit on Latin grooves interjected with a harder edge -- Latin soul, if you will.
"Silk 'n' Soul" is the most interestingly arranged piece. Opening with a Quincy Jones-style interlude that wouldn't be out of place in an avant-garde film of that era, it segues into a "Killer Joe" feel before moving on to a burning double-time swing.
Down-home organ fans will get their mellow groove fix satisfied with "Chicken Feet," McDuff's answer to Jimmy Smith's "Back At The Chicken Shack." "Stop It," another deep groove tune, opens with both horn and vocal interjections to "Stop it!" The musical humor, much like Ray Charles', adds a bit of whimsy to a set that truly satisfies the soul.