Monday, March 27, 2017

The Grassella Oliphant Quartette - 1965 - The Grass Roots

The Grassella Oliphant Quartette
The Grass Roots

01. One For The Masses 4:34
02. The Descendant 3:00
03. Star Dust 4:02
04. Uptown Hours 4:04
05. Mrs. O 3:23
06. Haitian Lady 4:05
07. Shiny Stockings 4:10
08. Granfather's Waltz 3:31
09. Step Lightly 4:36
10. Mood Indigo 3:16

Bass – Ray McKinney
Drums – Grassella Oliphant
Tenor Saxophone – Harold Ousley
Vibraphone – Bobby Hutcherson

The Grass Roots pairs the only two recordings drummer Grassella Oliphant ever released as a leader. He was a solid sideman in the 1950s with Sarah Vaughan, and then later with singer Gloria Lynne and organist Shirley Scott. Both these titles were released on Atlantic. The first, The Grass Roots, features saxophonist Harold Ousley, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, and bassist Ray McKinney. It's a varied date ranging from killer groove soul-jazz such as Ousley's "One for the Masses," covers of "Stardust" and "Mood Indigo," and hard bop swingers like "The Descendant" (also written by Ousley). Oliphant's playing is delightfully understated, but his contrapuntal work with Hutcherson is literally startling. Ousley's playing should be noted for its fury and tenderness, depending on the tune. His use of restraint is tentative because it allows him to bust it wide open at all the right moments with a big fat reedy tone.

Grassella Oliphant - 1967 - The Grass Is Greener

Grassella Oliphant 
The Grass Is Greener

01. Get Out Of My Life Woman 2:43
02. Ain't That Peculiar 2:52
03. Soul Woman 5:21
04. Peaches Are Better Down The Road 5:47
05. The Yodel 6:35
06. Cantaloupe Woman 4:37
07. The Latter Days 3:01
08. Rapid Shave 3:04

Bass – Major Holley
Drums – Grassella Oliphant
Guitar – Grant Green
Organ – John Patton
Tenor Saxophone – Harold Ousley
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Trumpet [Pocket] – Clark Terry

Drummer Grassella Oliphant's The Grass Is Greener is as good as it is rare. One of many soulful organ jazz dates that have gained cult status among sample hungry hip-hop and acid jazz devotees, this 1967 Atlantic album is packed with great playing and solid grooves (besides recording only one other album as a leader, his 1965 debut The Grass Roots, Oliphant also appeared on dates by singer Gloria Lynne and organist Shirley Scott, among others). With guitarist Grant Green and B-3 master John Patton completing the classic organ combo setup, the trio particularly stretch out on fine numbers like "Cantaloupe Woman" and Patton's own "Soul Woman." While these cuts are marked by a progressive, almost modal sound, much of the other material, which also features tenor saxophonist Harold Ousley and trumpeter Clark Terry, has a more down home and groove-heavy flavor; this is especially true on Terry's "Peaches Are Better Down the Road" and a cover of Allen Toussaint's classic bit of New Orleans soul, "Get Out of My Life Woman." Other standouts include a rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" and Ousley's breezy Latin swinger "The Latter Days." A great set.

It gets to you. That slow draggin’ beat of Get Out My Life, Woman that makes you think you’re listening to an alternative backing track of the Allen Touissant tune as performed by Lee Dorsey with Clark Terry ‘singing’ through his pocket trumpet, flavored with the lazy horns that state the well-known theme and the added bonus of John Patton’s greasy organ. A surprising start to a hip record by obscure drummer Grassella Oliphant.

Well, not that obscure. A number of hip hop artists have plundered The Grass Is Greener for beats, as well as Lee Dorsey’s funky recording of Allen Touissant’s composition. Think what you like about these methods – whether it’s pure theft or a mature artistic effort – at least they had good taste.
I wouldn’t call The Grass Is Greener an all-out smash, though. One’s search for a bit of flair in Oliphant’s drumming in the two jazzier bits will remain fruitless. And from the soul and funk-jazz tunes that luckily comprise the main part of the album, Ain’t That Peculiar (the 1965 hit for Marvin Gaye that was written by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and was a very popular cover among soul jazz artists of that period) doesn’t really pick up steam and is redeemed largely by the sharp-as-a-tack presence of guitarist Grant Green. The rest, however, and especially organist John Patton’s compositions Soul Woman and The Yodel are on the ball from start to finish.

Both tunes receive an unconventional snare treatment by Oliphant, a continuous, rollicking roll that is continued throughout. It’s powerful and stimulating for the other musicians. The Yodel is a particularly heavy cooker in which Patton and Green trade red hot solo’s. With such hard bop giants in tow, it’s hard to go wrong, and Oliphant doesn’t.

A comparison with John Patton’s album Got A Good Thing Goin’ (recorded April 29, 1966), that also has got Grant Green aboard, is justified. An uncommon figure of three tunes overlap with The Grass Is Greener: The Yodel, Soul Woman and Ain’t That Peculiar. It includes a version of the latter that runs smoother than Oliphant’s take. John Patton’s originals are cookin’ and faster executed, including outstanding Green and Patton solo’s. Nevertheless, I prefer the earlier 1965 versions of The Yodel and Soul Woman, that possess the added tenor sax of Harold Ousley on The Yodel and a more ‘southern’ feel. Both fine albums, I dutifully stipulate, deserve a place in your shopping bag.

Grassella Oliphant (nicknamed “Grass”) dropped out of the business in 1970, only to return professionally after a 40-year hiatus in 2010 in the New Jersey area. He won’t make the cover of Downbeat Magazine, but will undoubtly serve the citizens of New Jersey a tasty and spicy meal.

Charles McPherson - 1977 - New Horizons

Charles McPherson 
New Horizons

01. Promise 5:02
02. I'll Never Stop Loving You 4:17
03. Night Eyes 9:38
04. Horizons 5:19
05. Samba D'Orfeo 6:56
06. Dee Blues 8:13

Charles McPherson - alto sax
Mickey Tucker - piano
Cecil McBee - bass
Freddie Waits - drums

Recorded September 28, 1977

One of the top bop-oriented altoists of the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s, Charles McPherson recorded some of his finest records during his period with the Xanadu label. For this quartet set with pianist Mickey Tucker, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Freddie Waits, McPherson performs four excellent originals ("Promise" and "Dee Blues" are well worth reviving), plus "I'll Never Stop Loving You" and "Samba D'Orfeo." The music is typically swinging and has its exciting moments.

Charles McPherson - 1975 - Beautiful

Charles McPherson

01. They Say It's Wonderful 4:59
02. But Beautiful 6:18
03. It Could Happen To You 5:43
04. Lover 4:49
05. This Can't Be Love 5:28
06. Body And Soul 7:44
07. It Had To Be You 5:42

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Sam Jones
Drums – Leroy Williams
Piano – Duke Jordan

Recorded August 12, 1975.

Xanadu was a perfect label for altoist Charles McPherson since he was always a bop-based improviser who was perfectly at home jamming straightahead standards. This CD reissue features the talented altoist (who is joined by pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Leroy Williams) infusing beauty and boppish ideas into such songs as "They Say It's Wonderful," "It Could Happen to You" and "This Can't Be Love."  A previously unreleased trio rendition of "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" (recorded while the musicians were waiting for McPherson to show up) has been added to the CD. Recommended.

Charles McPherson - 1973 - Today's Man

Charles McPherson
Today's Man

01. Charisma
02. Naima
03. Invitation
04. Stranger In Paradise
05. Cheryl
06. Bell Bottoms

Bass [Acoustic] – Lawrence Evans
Drums – Billy Higgins
Flute, Saxophone [Baritone] – Chris Woods
Flute, Saxophone [Tenor] – Frank Wess
French Horn – Julius Watkins
Piano [Acoustic] – Barry Harris
Saxophone [Alto] – Charles McPherson
Trombone – Garnett Brown
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Cecil Bridgewater, Richard Williams

A great document of the more soulful shift made by Charles McPherson in the 70s – and an album that features his moody alto work set amidst a slightly larger group – filled with great players that include Chris Woods on flute, Richard Williams and Cecil Bridewater on trumpet, Frank Wess on tenor sax, Garnett Brown on trombone, and Barry Harris on piano. The tracks are deceptively easygoing, but swing with a nice spiritual soul jazz undercurrent – and McPherson blows in some warm, open modes that really grab us on the best tunes.

Charles McPherson - 1972 - Siku Ya Bibi (Day Of The Lady)

Charles McPherson 
Siku Ya Bibi (Day Of The Lady)

01. Don't Explain
02. Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)
03. God Bless The Child
04. Miss Brown To You
05. Good Morning Heartache
06. For Heaven's Sake
07. I'm A Fool To Want You
08. Lover Come Back To Me

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Sam Jones
Drums – Leroy Williams
Guitar – Earl Dunbar
Piano – Barry Harris

For the second of his three Mainstream sessions (one that has been reissued on CD), the bebop altoist Charles McPherson pays tribute to Billie Holiday; in fact, "Siku Ya Bibi" means "Day of the Lady" in Swahili. The emphasis is mostly on ballads, with "Miss Brown to You" and "Lover Come Back to Me" being exceptions. Four of the eight selections find McPherson backed by ten strings arranged by Ernie Wilkins, while the remainder of the date has the altoist joined by a rhythm section that includes pianist Barry Harris. Although not quite up to the level of his upcoming, more freewheeling Xanadu sessions, this is a fine outing. Highlights include the two aforementioned cooking pieces, "Lover Man," "Good Morning Heartache," and "I'm a Fool to Want You."

Charles McPherson - 1971 - Charles McPherson

Charles McPherson 
Charles McPherson

01. What's Going On 3:28
02. Serenity 7:25
03. My Funny Valentine 7:37
04. Another Kind Of Blues 7:03
05. While We're Young 6:33
06. Bird Feathers 5:10

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Leroy Williams
Electric Guitar – Carl Lynch, Gene Bertoncini
Piano – Barry Harris, Nico Bunik
Trumpet – Lonnie Hilliard

Recorded: June 16-17, 1971

Charles McPherson is in fine form on this self-titled out-of-print Mainstream LP as is ex-Mingus sideman Lonnie Hillyer on trumpet.
Barry Harris and Ron Carter offer their usual strong support as well. McPherson offers up two originals, "Serenity" and "Another Kind of Blues" as well as two standards, "My Funny Valentine" and an up-tempo version of Alec Wilder's "While We're Young".
Charlie Parker is also represented with "Bird Feathers". The only throw away track is "What's Goin' On" which sounds dated and is marred by poorly engineered sound. Thankfully, this is the shortest track on the record.

Charles McPherson - 1970 - McPherson's Mood

Charles McPherson 
McPherson's Mood

01. Explorations
02. McPherson's Mood
03. Opalescence
04. My Cherie Amour
05. Mish-Mash-Bash
06. I Get A Kick Out Of You

Recorded December 23, 1969.

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Buster Williams
Drums – Roy Brooks
Piano – Barry Harris

When alto saxophonist Charles McPherson recorded McPherson's Mood in 1969, jazz was going in many different directions. The jazz landscape offered everything from fusion, organ combos, and jazz-funk to modal, post-bop, and avant-garde jazz -- a wide variety of experimentation was taking place. But McPherson was still a bebopper at heart, specifically, a bebopper who had a lot of Charlie "Bird" Parker in his tone and was a Bird disciple without being a Bird clone. McPherson's Mood isn't the least bit innovative (by 1969 standards), but it's definitely solid and enjoyable. Joined by pianist Barry Harris, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Roy Brooks, McPherson sticks with what he does best -- pure, unapologetic bebop -- and Bird's influence serves him well on exuberant originals like "Mish-Mash-Bash" and "Explorations," as well as an enthusiastic, if conventional performance of the Cole Porter standard "I Get a Kick out of You." Most of the time, McPherson's Mood sounds like it could have been recorded in 1949 instead of 1969. But then, a 1949 session wouldn't have included an interpretation of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour," which the altoist successfully gives a lyrical bop makeover. McPherson wasn't the only jazz instrumentalist who tackled "My Cherie Amour" in the late '60s, but unlike the various organ combos that embraced Wonder's charming soul-pop classic, McPherson isn't trying to combine jazz and R&B. Instead, he shows us what "My Cherie Amour" might have sounded like if the melody had been around in the '40s or early '50s and Bird or Sonny Stitt had decided to interpret it. Again, McPherson's Mood isn't innovative or forward-thinking, but it's well-worth obtaining for those seeking high-quality, swinging bebop along the lines of Bird, Stitt, Sonny Red, and Phil Woods.

Charles McPherson - 1968 - Horizons

Charles McPherson 

01. Horizons
02. Lush Life
03. Ain't That Somethin'
04. Night Eyes
05. I Should Care
06. She Loves Me

Recorded in New York City; August 27, 1968.

Charles McPherson -  Primary Artist, Alto Saxophone
Walter Booker -  Bass
Billy Higgins  - Drums
Pat Martino  -  Guitar
Cedar Walton  - Piano

  Charles McPherson's fifth Prestige album (which was reissued in 1998 in the Original Jazz Classics series) differs from the first four in that McPherson contributed four of the six originals. Assisted by pianist Cedar Walton, the up-and-coming guitarist Pat Martino, bassist Walter Booker, drummer Billy Higgins and (on three of the songs) the obscure but fluent vibraphonist Nasir Hafiz, the altoist is in typically swinging and boppish form. Best among his originals are the catchy "Ain't That Something" and "She Loves Me," while "Lush Life" is taken as an alto guitar duet. By playing bop-oriented music in 1968, Charles McPherson could have been considered behind the times, but he was never a fad chaser and he has long had a timeless style. This music still sounds viable and creative decades later.

Charles McPherson - 1968 - From This Moment On!

Charles McPherson 
From This Moment On!

01. Little Sugar Baby 3:14
02. Once In A Lifetime 5:11
03. The Good Life 6:30
04. I Like The Way You Shake That Thing 3:14
05. From This Moment On 3:32
06. Without You 7:10
07. You've Changed 6:15
Recorded January 31, 1968.

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Peck Morrison
Drums – Lenny McBrowne
Guitar – Pat Martino
Piano – Cedar Walton

Some of the songs on this set by bop-influenced altoist Charles McPherson (reissued on CD in 1997) use boogaloo and pop rhythms. The repertoire ranges from a couple of OK originals ("Little Sugar Baby" and "Like the Way You Shake That Thing") to a recent show tune ("Once in a Lifetime") and a few standards. Pianist Cedar Walton, the young guitarist Pat Martino, bassist Peck Morrison and drummer Lennie McBrowne form the strong supporting cast. Not one of McPherson's most essential releases, as the material and arrangements are just not that strong; nevertheless, the altoist still plays well, and his fans will want to pick up this reissue.

Charles McPherson - 1966 - The Quintet / Live!

Charles McPherson 
The Quintet / Live! (Recorded Live At The Five Spot)

01. The Viper 4:45
02. I Can't Get Started 9:05
03. Shaw 'Nuff 10:15
04. Here's That Rainy Day 6:30
05. Never Let Me Go 11:30
06. Suddenly 6:50

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Ray McKinney
Drums – Billy Higgins
Piano – Barry Harris
Trumpet – Lonnie Hillyer

Altoist Charles McPherson and pianist Barry Harris are the stars of this live bop-oriented session. Trumpeter Lonnie Hillyer does his best although he stumbles a bit on the rapid "Shaw 'Nuff," drummer Billy Higgins and the forgotten bassist Ray McKinney are fine in support and the repertoire (ranging from the funky "The Viper" and "I Can't Get Started" to "Here's That Rainy Day" and the recent "Never Let Me Go") is diverse and challenging. It's an excellent album overall.

Charles McPherson - 1965 - Con Alma!

Charles McPherson 
Con Alma!

01. Eronel 6:54
02. In A Sentimental Mood 7:53
03. Chasin' The Bird 7:08
04. Con Alma! 5:28
05. I Don't Know 8:16
06. Dexter Rides Again 8:04

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – George Tucker
Drums – Alan Dawson
Piano – Barry Harris
Tenor Saxophone – Clifford Jordan

Altoist Charles McPherson teams up with distinctive tenor Clifford Jordan, pianist Barry Harris, bassist George Tucker and drummer Alan Dawson for jazz classics by Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie (a mysterious version of "Con Alma") and Dexter Gordon in addition to an original McPherson blues, "I Don't Know," which closely recalls "Parker's Mood." McPherson and Harris both have their share of fine solos, but Jordan generally takes honors on this set; he is the only musician who was looking beyond bop and playing in a more original style.

Charles McPherson - 1964 - Bebop Revisited!

Charles McPherson 
Bebop Revisited!

01. Hot House
02. Nostalgia
03. Variations On A Blues By Bird
04. Wail
05. Embraceable You
06. Si Si

Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
Bass – Nelson Boyd
Drums – Al Heath
Piano – Barry Harris
Trumpet – Carmell Jones

Recorded November 20, 1964.

A Charlie Parker disciple who brings his own lyricism to the bebop language, Charles McPherson has been a reliable figure in modern mainstream jazz for more than 35 years. He played in the Detroit jazz scene of the mid-'50s, moved to New York in 1959, and within a year was working with Charles Mingus. McPherson and his friend Lonnie Hillyer succeeded Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson as regular members of Mingus' band in 1961 and he worked with the bassist off and on up until 1972. Although he and Hillyer had a short-lived quintet in 1966, McPherson was not a full-time leader until 1972. In 1978, he moved to San Diego, which has been his home ever since and sometimes he uses his son, Chuck McPherson, on drums. Charles McPherson, who helped out on the film Bird by playing some of the parts not taken from Charlie Parker records, has led dates through the years for Prestige (1964-1969), Mainstream, Xanadu, Discovery, and Arabesque.

Bebop is the thing on this excellent outing as altoist Charles McPherson and pianist Barry Harris do their interpretations of Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. With trumpeter Carmell Jones, bassist Nelson Boyd and drummer Al "Tootie" Heath completing the quintet, the band romps through such bop classics as "Hot House," "Nostalgia," "Wail" and "Si Si" along with an original blues and "Embraceable You." A previously unissued "If I Love You" is added to the CD reissue. McPherson and Jones make for a potent frontline on these spirited performances, easily recommended to fans of straightahead jazz.

Charles Kynard - 1973 - Your Mama Don't Dance

Charles Kynard 
Your Mama Don't Dance

01. Superstition 4:44
02. The World Is A Ghetto 2:59
03. Momma Jive 3:26
04. I Got So Much Trouble 5:06
05. Your Mama Don't Dance 2:36
06. Zambezi 5:34
07. Summer Breeze 3:25
08. You've Got It Bad Girl 3:47

Charles Kynard - electric organ
Ray Pounds - drums
Paul Humphrey - drums
Chuck Rainey - Fender bass
Arthur Adams - electric guitar
David Roberts - trombone, bass trombone
George Bohanon - trombone, bass trombone (solos)
James Kartchner - trumpet, flugelhorn
Jerome Rusch - trumpet, flugelhorn

Recorded in '73, Jazz organist Charles Kynard does his take on a number of recently recorded funk tunes, circa that era... including Superstition, The World Is A Ghetto, I've Got So Much Trouble and Summer Breeze. There's not a single miss on this album...
Featuring ultra funky soloing, funky comping, a tight rhythm section, tight crisp horn section - - funky but crisp arrangements... tightly produced... and not a tune is a miss.
Fred Wesley fans... take note of George Bohannon, the original Funky Trombonist's presence... His solo on SUPERSTITION steals the show.

Charles Kynard - 1972 - Woga

Charles Kynard 

01. Little Ghetto Boy
02. Hot Sauce
03. Lime Twig
04. Slop Jar
05. Rock Steady
06. Name The Missing Word
07. The First Time Ever
08. Shout

Charles Kynard : electric organ
Chuck Rainey : Fender bass
Arthur Adams : electric guitar
David Roberts : trombone, bass trombone
George Bohanon : trombone, bass trombone
James Kartchner : trumpet, flugelhorn
Jerome Rusch : trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Humphrey : drums

Sweet organ lines, heavy drums, and a great little groove throughout -- a tight batch of groovers from the mighty Charles Kynard! The keyboardist is in fine 70s form here -- stepping away from the sparer sound of his albums for Prestige with a fuller style for Mainstream Records -- in a groove that's almost part blacksploitation funk, thanks to some sharp backings from arranger Richard Fritz! The mighty Paul Humphrey is at the bottom of the set on nicely funky drums -- and other players include Arthur Adams on guitar, Chuck Rainey on bass, and some great additional horns, which give the record a larger jazzy finish, but never get in the way of Kynard's lean, mean organ lines. There's a great version of "Rock Steady" on the album, one that has a great funky intro -- plus the cuts "Shout", "Lime Twig", "Slop Jar", "Name The Missing Word", "Little Ghetto Boy", and "Hot Sauce".

This is one of organist Charles Kynard's best albums in my opinion. Most of the material is of a high caliber which is generally one of the biggest drawbacks to listening to the soul jazz or "acid jazz" of the early and mid 70s. The cheesy material was usually some popular pop tune or R&B tune meant as a single for radio.

This 1972 Mainstream Records album has several cover tunes such as the first track the Donny Hathaway sung "Little Ghetto Boy". This tune comes off rather well in my opinion. Charles states the vocal melody on his organ with a sound crossed between Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff. Charles is not a blow the listener away with tons of notes type player, his forte is the groove and while the listener does get a few glimpses of Charles chops on this album he plays more of what the song requires which in my opinion is a sign of a mature improviser.

The band assembled on Woga is a great contribution to this albums successful sound because they're super tight and have a relaxed grooving chemistry together. The band has an interesting horn section made up of Jerry Rusch and James Kartchner on trumpets with George Bohanan and David Roberts on trombones. On guitar is Arthur Adams, on electric bass the legendary Chuck Rainey who kills it on every tune with his fat clear sound and funky bass lines. On drums is Paul Humphrey and Richard Fritz arranged, conducted the horns and wrote all the tunes except for tracks 1,5,6 & 7.

In my opinion it's the Fritz originals that deliver the band's most inspired performances especially track 4 "Slop Jar" along with the Aretha Franklin tune track 5 "Rock Steady". In all honesty I can put this album on and enjoy it from start to finish which is a rare thing with this era soul jazz. As I said before about the tendency of the record labels wanting singles for radio that usually ended up being badly arranged pop material popular at the time.
Here on Woga that doesn't happen, the arranger Richard Fritz avoids adding the Vegas show sound into the horn arrangements and the horn section is very tight and in tune with each other. I'd also like to mention the great sound and production on this album, every instrument can be heard clearly with good separation. The drums and bass sound great! Up front and punchy. A rare feat for 1972 recording technology.

I'll close this review by saying if you're a fan of the soul jazz sound of this time by guys such as Lou Donaldson, Leon Spencer Jr, Melvin Sparks, Jimmy McGriff or Neo Soul jazz sound of artists such as Karl Denson, The Greyboy Allstars and Medeski, Martin and Wood you should definitely have this album in your collection. Good luck finding the cd for under 50 bucks,

Charles Kynard - 1971 - Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People)

Charles Kynard 
Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People)

01. Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People) 7:50
02. Winter's Child 4:33
03. Zebra Walk 6:10
04. Something 9:40
05. Change Up 9:00

Bass [Fender] – Jimmy Lewis
Drums – Bernard Purdie (tracks: B1), Idris Muhammad
Guitar – Melvin Sparks
Organ, Electric Piano – Charles Kynard
Saxophone [Tenor] – Rusty Bryant
Trumpet – Virgil Jones

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 14, 1970

Kynard is joined by luminaries from Prestige's soul-jazz stable -- Rusty Bryant on tenor sax, Melvin Sparks on guitar, Jimmy Lewis on bass, Virgil Jones on trumpet, and Idris Muhammad and Bernard Purdie on drums -- for a solid album that occasionally catches fire. In particular, the eight-minute title track is not just a highlight of Kynard's discography, but a stellar moment for soul-jazz in general. Sparks sets the pace on that number with superb James Brown-style rapid-strum choke guitar, Lewis lays down a "Get Ready"-style bassline, and everyone really cooks when it comes time to solo, including Kynard; he takes a while to make his presence known, but then unleashes passages with uncharacteristic, unrestrained passion. The ten-minute cover of the Beatles' "Something" does a lot more with the overdone standard than many people have, Kynard again shining with some imaginative and unexpectedly lengthy, exuberant soloing.

Charles Kynard - 1971 - Charles Kynard

Charles Kynard 
Charles Kynard

01. El Torro Poo Poo 3:10
02. Greeze 4:37
03. She 6:31
04. Grits 6:42
05. Greens 4:37
06. Nightwood 2:26
07. It's Too Late 9:18

Bass – Carol Kaye
Congas – King Errison
Drums – James F. Gadson
Guitar – Billy Fender
Organ – Charles Kynard

This album along with the albums Afro Disiac, Wu-Tu-Wa Zui and Woga contain in my opinion organist Charles Kynard's best work on record.

The band assembled for this 1971 Mainstream label date includes some legendary players such as Enrie Watts on tenor sax and Carol Kaye of the session team "The Wrecking Crew" on electric bass. Billy Fender on guitar, James Gadson on drums and King Errison on congas & aux percussion. The band is enjoying each other's company as they sound relaxed and the groove never comes across forced.

Once again the music on this date is a mixture of popular tunes of the time such as the band's take on Carol King's It's Too Late while all the other tunes in this set were composed by Richard Fritz who wrote and arranged all the original material on Charles Mainstream album Woga. This album is a lot like Woga which was recorded a year later in 1972 in sound and concept, both albums use two legendary bassists and both feature material from the pen of Richard Fritz who I'm assuming was Mainstream's staff writer/arranger. If you're new to this soul jazz organ driven music then I don't think anybody would have a problem starting out with this album or any of Kynard's albums I mentioned in this review. If you're a veteran fan of this music and Charles Kynard but don't own this you've got a big hole in your collection where this album should go. Enjoy!

Charles Kynard - 1970 - Afro-Disiac

Charles Kynard 

01. Afro-Disiac 4:52
02. Bella Donna 5:03
03. Trippin' 9:00
04. Odds On 7:07
05. Sweetheart 7:52
06. Chanson Du Nuit 5:00

Drums – Bernard Purdie
Electric Bass [Fender] – Jimmy Lewis
Guitar – Grant Green
Organ – Charles Kynard
Tenor Saxophone – Houston Person

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 6, 1970

On this 1970 session, Kynard was backed by a first-rate quartet of musicians that often appeared on Prestige soul-jazz dates of the early 1970s: Houston Person on tenor sax, Grant Green on guitar, Jimmy Lewis on bass, and Bernard Purdie on drums. Most of the original material was supplied not by Kynard or the band, but by Kynard's friend Richard Fritz, who penned four of the six tunes. Kynard's one of the more understated soul-jazz organists of the era, and shares space pretty generously with the other musicians on these basic, funky vamps. The title track has an edginess in the riff that makes it stand out a bit; "Bella Donna" has a melody not far from "Wade on the Water" in places; Jimmy Lewis gets a real fat walking Fender bass tone on "Trippin'" (which he co-wrote with Kynard); and "Chanson du Nuit" has a light bossa nova feel which contrasts pleasingly with the rest of the set. It's been paired with a later 1970 Kynard album, Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui, on the single-disc Legends of Acid Jazz.

Charles Kynard - 1969 - The Soul Brotherhood

Charles Kynard 
The Soul Brotherhood

01. The Soul Brotherhood 6:06
02. Big City 7:22
03. Jealjon 7:40
04. Piece O' Pisces 10:00
05. Blue Farouq 8:55

Bass [Fender] – Jimmy Lewis
Drums – Mickey Roker
Guitar – Grant Green
Organ – Charles Kynard
Tenor Saxophone – David "Fathead" Newman
Trumpet – Blue Mitchell

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; March 10, 1969.

Charles Kynard's name is an obscure one to those not interested or educated enough to be enamored with '60s and '70s organ-driven soul-jazz -- which at the dawn of the 21st century, was being played by generations whose parents were children at best when this music was in its heyday. But he was an essential player and the proof is in the caliber of players he could draw to play on any given session. Two of those sessions are released here, on one CD as Fantasy's bid to issue two-fer recordings of long out of print classics. The first five tracks of this bad-assed soul groove set were issued under the Soul Brotherhood title in 1969; the rest were released as Reelin' with the Feelin' that same year. The musicians on Soul Brotherhood were: the enigmatic jazz drummer Mickey Roker, guitarist Grant Green, tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, and electric bassist Jimmy Lewis. From the title track, Kynard has the proceedings firmly in hand, his sweeping right hand carries both the middle and the high registers of the instrument in a flighty idiomatic spiral of harmonic invention that never leaves its root in the blues. Lewis is merely a time keeper, but a funky one, and that's all Green needs when it's his turn to solo, with his arpeggios and stinging trills and 16th notes slipping all over Kynard's top-heavy surface. Green glides and slips and flies through the mix as Newman and Mitchell cover the fills with a harmonic front that swings in soft blue. The same goes for "Blue Farouq," which begins as a soul-blues strut by the horns; Green comps, laying back, and Kynard is down in the deep with his left hand seeking to fill the whole thing with enough water for the mosquito -- Mitchell -- to get steamed up and fly. And he does this with as inspired a solo as he ever played. He took the 12-bar blues and caught its tail moving just far enough behind the beat to stretch the whole thing out. Honking lines of feeling and slippery hooks smatter notes all over the palette before Newman straightens it all out with an in-the-pocket groove for three or four choruses. The lineup for Reelin' with the Feelin', a much funkier record, was Joe Pass on guitar, Wilton Felder on tenor, Carol Kaye on electric bass, and Paul Humphreys on drums. From the title track, we gather this session is a blast of hard funk and groove where the blues are all built into shuffles and strolls and distorted by electricity -- Kynard's organ is so overloaded in the mix it's hard at times to tell what instrument he's playing, he's kickin' it that hard. With Kaye's bass lending an even deeper bottom that plonks instead of pops, and Pass chunking his already fat chords into morasses of distorted noise, this is the most down and dirty of groove records issued during the period. Check out Kaye's "Soul Reggae" (which must have been the composer's impression of what that music sounded like -- and was the first American composition to have that word in the title -- it sounds little like the Jamaican variety), but the time signature is an odd one with the accents on the odd beats. A strange and wooly groove is created in the mix. The Caribbean-flavored Felder solo and Pass comping is more calypso than anything else, but it's effective as hell and takes the whole tune further out into some ocean of weirdness than can be defined here. Through it all, one never feels out of the groove's loop, Kynard, Kaye, and Pass lock us in tight for the entire ride. When Kynard does solo, he just loses it, whipping up and down the keyboard, beating the funked-up accents and opening them up for more mud to pour through. The entire disc closes with Wilton Felder's "Stomp," a fast-paced run-though of outer-space funk and roll. The Jimmy Smith grooves of old are still in evidence but they're placed at the edges. Now a distorted organ with a deeper low end lays a bottom for Pass and Felder to just go out and blow from. Pass is so smooth and fluid here, he's like a shot of Don Q 151 that's been lit afire. The dueling harmonies of Felder and Kynard are a development that opens the door for Felder's solo that carries the blues through hard bop and modal and into the grooved-out funk side of the '60s. As Kynard restates theme, Felder just romps all over it, carrying out a series of arpeggios in intervallic constructions that leave Kynard no choice but to start his own solo in the middle -- he's more than up for the challenge. Two handed chomping chords accented by high-end sharps carry him back to Felder and Pass who take the theme out in a flurry of notes and chords too out even for funk to contain. Whew! This is, of all the groove records of the late '60s, the one that pushes all the boundaries. Now that the DJs and mixologists can get their hands on this, it'll be party time in the sample room. In the meanwhile, don't settle for a watered-down transmutation; this is art, go out and get your own copy.

Charles Kynard - 1969 - Reelin' With The Feelin'

Charles Kynard
Reelin' With The Feelin'

01. Reelin' With The Feelin' 7:15
02. Soul Reggae 4:57
03. Slow Burn 6:34
04. Boogalooin' 6:24
05. Be My Love 6:20
06. Stomp 5:08

Bass – Carol Kaye
Drums – Paul Humphrey
Guitar – Joe Pass
Organ, Electric Piano – Charles Kynard
Tenor Saxophone – Wilton Felder

Recorded in Los Angeles; August 11, 1969.

Although Charles Kynard led a date for Pacific Jazz in the early '60s and five albums for Prestige from 1968-1970, he never really became famous. A fine organist in the style of Jimmy Smith, Kynard could always groove and chug along with the best of them. This Prestige date (reissued on an LP in the Original Jazz Classics series but not yet on CD) matches Kynard with an interesting cast of players: tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder (of the Jazz Crusaders), guitarist Joe Pass (a few years before he became famous for his Pablo recordings), electric bassist Carol Kaye, and drummer Paul Humphrey. The music is quite groove-oriented and chiefly of interest for the contrasting solos of Kynard, Felder, and Pass. [The entire album has been combined with another 1969 session, The Soul Brotherhood, on Prestige's 2001 CD reissue The Soul Brotherhood.]

I first became aware of organist Charles Kynard a long time ago, when listening to a Tom Waits record, Blue Valentines. Greasy, sharp-as-a-knife organ injections were the cherries on top of Romeo Is Bleeding, one of that jazzy, theatrical shuffles that the incomparable growler and storyteller Tom Waits brings with so much zest. Ever quick to scroll through sleeve info, I bumped into the name of Kynard.

My mind went elsewhere, as minds often have the inkling to do. Yet, Kynard had stayed in the back of my mind and when I started digging organ jazz of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson and Lonnie Smith, out of the ditch climbed Kynard as well. What I learned is that the fact that Kynard did a Waits date is part of the proof that the organist’s nature was ambidextrous. Kynard is best known for his groovy funk and blues recordings on Prestige and Mainstream. But he also was a regular attributor to Hollywood productions and played gospel in church as well.
Reelin’ With The Feelin’ is Kynard’s third release on Prestige and a fitting example of his blues and soul jazz personality. It has an interesting line-up including guitarist Joe Pass – not often heard in such surroundings – The Jazz Crusaders’ tenorist Wilton Felder and ace studio bassist, Carol Kaye. Re-listening this album only for Kaye’s delicious dry, plucky sound and articulate style, is, as I now know for a fact, a far from weird effort, but on the contrary, very worthwhile.

The three longest cuts of the album – Reelin’ With The Feelin’, Slow Burn and Boogalooin’ – written by arranger Richard Fritz, are fresh funkblues jams. Slow Burn is the highlight. The tight rhythm consisting of tacky drums and a rumbling bass figure so deep it makes you wonder how deep the ocean is in Carol Kaye’s mind, sets things in motion. From then on things are hard to pull to a stop. Kynard builds his solo well, veering from crunchy bass notes to burning rubber-phrases in the upper register. Felder puts in a yearning statement and throws in squeaky and honky twists. Joe Pass produces a mix of funky licks and fast, tricky phrases that travel beyond the confines of the pentatonic blues format. Ever thus, Slow Burn has to come to an end, and it does with a humorous stretch of notes by Kynard.

Predictably, Carol Kaye’s Soul Reggae is a reggae-type tune. It’s a charming ditty that bounces along merrily. Is Kaye the first to incorporate reggae into a jazz format? She might well be. In 1969, reggae wasn’t as yet the big thing it would become when Bob Marley got into the picture. Be My Love is a nice Latin tune. Kynard’s solo is a throat grabber, containing swift, fiery and freewheelin’ phrases, occasional outbursts and repeated r&b attacks. Stomp, written by Wilton Felder, is a variation of Dizzy Gillespie’s Blue ‘n’ Boogie. The drums fail to swing, but the immaculate unisono figures each couple plays behind the given soloist give it the necessary bite. As you may have noticed, Kynard didn’t bring any tunes to this session. You’ll hear, however, that it doesn’t effect the very pleasant and funky proceedings.

Charles Kynard’s date with Tom Waits took place in 1978. He died on July 8, 1979. There’s no such thing as an appropriate passing, but Kynard’s comes close. He died while playing his home organ.

Charles Kynard - 1968 - Professor Soul

Charles Kynard
Professor Soul

01. Professor Soul 6:47
02. Cristo Redentor 4:34
03. Song Of Delilah 6:45
04. Sister Lovie 5:42
05. By The Time I Get To Phoenix 7:50
06. J.C 5:27

Drums – Johnny Kirkwood
Guitar – Cal Green
Organ – Charles Kynard

I have the 1972 Prestige reisue, with the track order reversed... never had an original copy so I don't know how the tracks run on the disc itself

Charles Kynard released this ultra groovy hammond happening in 1968. With just John Kirkwood on drums and Cal Green on guitar, Professor Soul is a true soul-jazz testament, you can see it on the album cover that the combo are flirting with the young groovy hippies around - very atmospheric! Groovy!

Charles Kynard - 1963 - Where It's At!

Charles Kynard - 1963 - Where It's At!

01. I'll Fly Away 3:37
02. Amazing Grace 2:42
03. Motherless Child 2:37
04. The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow 4:47
05. I Want To Be Ready 2:20
06. Smooth Sailing 3:12
07. I Wonder 5:13
08. Blue Greens And Beans 3:24
09. Sports Lament 5:03
10. Where It's At 3:45

Recorded at Pacific Jazz Studios, Hollywood, California 1962-63

Track 1
Charles Kynard (Organ)
Ray Crawford (Guitar)
Leroy Henderson (Drums)
Clifford Scott (Tenor & Alto Sax)
Ronnell Bright (Piano)

Tracks 2-9
Charles Kynard (Organ)
Howard Roberts (Guitar)
Milt Turner (Drums)
Clifford Scott (Tenor & Alto Sax)

Charles Kynard was an American soul jazz organist and bass player from Missouri who often worked with and recorded songs by arranger Richard Fritz.  Though never widely recognized during his lifetime, his recordings have been re-discovered by subsequent generations and a particular favorite for the hip-hop and the acid jazz crowds.

Charles Kynard was born February 20th, 1933 in St. Louis, Missouri. He ended up in Kansas City playing piano whilst studying for a degree in music education at the University of Kansas. When the proprietor of a club Kynard was scheduled to play at suggested he try the organ, Kynard obliged and was hooked… and hired. Soon he was a draw at clubs like The Street and The Blue Room, where he paired with Arch Martin and mentored a young Bill Freeman. After a stint in the army ended in 1957, Kynard pursued a parallel career teaching retarded children. At the same time he formed a band that played around KC, further establishing himself as a local talent. Local trumpeter Carmell Jones to Pacific Jazz founder Richard Bock.
Kynard’s first recording was accompanying on My Mothers’ Eyes (1963-Pacific Jazz), credited to Sonny Stitt with the jazz organ of Charles Kynard. One of the tracks, “Red Top,” was a composition by Kynard’s uncle. Kynard also showed up on a few tracks of Less McCann’s The Gospel Truth (1963-Pacific Jazz). Kynard’s own debut was the gospel-tinged, Where It’s At (1963-Pacific Jazz), which appeared the same year and featured accompaniment from saxophonist Clifford Scott, drummers Milt Turner and Leroy Henderson, Ray Crawford and Howard Roberts on guitar, and Ronnell Bright on piano. After its release, Kynard moved to Los Angeles where, as a bandleader, he found steady employment at the Tiki Island bar. He also continued his commitment to special education and playing in church. The following year, Charles Kynard & Buddy Collette released the Latin jazz Warm Winds on World Pacific.
Several years passed before Kynard returned with a new album on a new label, Prestige Records. He was brought to the label by producer Bob Porter, who’d previously written the liner notes for My Mother’s Eyes. The album was the soul jazz Professor Soul (1968-Prestige), on which he was accompanied by guitarist Cal Green and drummer Johnny Kirkwood.  The following year’s The Soul Brotherhood (1969-Prestige) was another easy swinging, blues-based set on which he teamed him with fellow St. Louisan Grant Green on guitar, bassist Jimmy Lewis, drummer Mickey Roker, saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman and trumpeter Blue Mitchell.
Reelin' with the Feelin' (1969-Prestige) featured a line-up of guitarist Joe Pass, saxophonist Wilton Felder, bassist Carol Kaye and drummer Paul Humphreys. It signaled Kynard’s increasingly dirty, funky groove-based direction that he would pursue in the 1970s.  April’s Afro-Disiac (1970-Prestige) once again featured Green and Lewis as well as saxophonist Houston Person and drummer Bernard Purdie. December’s Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People) (1970-Prestige) followed later in the year, once again featuring Lewis and Purdie as well as Rusty Bryant on tenor sax, Melvin Sparks on guitar, Virgil Jones on trumpet, and drummer Idris Muhammad.
Charles Kynard (Mainstream-1971) saw Kynard changing labels once again. Joined by bassist Carol Kaye, of Axelrod fame, King Errison on congas, saxophonist Ernie Watts, guitarist Billy Fender and drummer James Gadson; the album is his most groove based to that point. That year, Kynard also played on Leonard Feather All Stars’ Night Blooming Jazzmen (1971-Maintstream). His own Woga (1972-Mainstream) followed with Chuck Rainey and Humphrey providing support on a smooth, funky set . After Manu Dibango’s surprise hit, “Soul Makossa,” Bob Shad put together a studio band that included Kynard and twelve other instruments laying down funky takes of that song and others on Soul Makossa (1973-Maintstream). Your Mama Don't Dance (1973-Mainstream) was, as with Woga,  a set of songs that wouldn’t feel out of place in as the score for a film of the era. On it he was again joined by Humphrey and Rainey as well as guitarist Arthur Adams, trombonists George Bohanon and David Roberts and trumpet and flugelhorn players James Kartchner and Jerry Rusch. It proved to be his last release. Afterward, Kynard ceased recording completely, instead limiting himself to club and church and focusing on his day job and his family. He died July 8th, 1979.