Jimmy McGriff – Countdown (1983)

Photobucket

 
Jimmy McGriff
“Countdown”
1983, Milestone  (M-9116)


1. I’m Walkin’ (Domino and Bartholomew)
2. Holly (Jimmy Mcgriff)
3. Down For The Count (Frank Foster)
4. Blow Your Horn (Benny Green)
5. Since I Fell For You (Buddy Johnson)
6. Shiny Stockings (Frank Foster)


Clifford Adams, Jr – trombone
Marshall Keys – alto sax
Arnold Sterling – alto and tenor sax
Jimmy McGriff – organ
Melvin Sparks – guitar
Vance James – drums


Produced by Bob Porter
Engineer – Rudy Van Gelder
Recorded on April 27 and 28, 1983

Vinyl ; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
———

Organ combos are often a whipping-boy for jazz purists.  Seated behind an instrument with limited emotional range, organists were perhaps in the forefront of artists who extended the jazz tradition of dipping into the “great tradition of popular song” of Cole Porter or Gershwin and looking to the contemporary hit parade to produce jazzed up versions of Carol King, Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles or funkier fare like Sly Stone and Motown, earning the ire of critics who lambasting this ‘pandering’ to commercial trends.  By the nineteen-seventies the funky soul-jazz record was so ubiquitous that it seemed like a handful or artists were able to crank them out quicker than hotcakes from a griddle and with about as much variety.  Even if I personally love most of this stuff, I acknowledge that, as one of my friends Stumpy McFinn (a pseudonym) put it regarding his own feelings for these records, “A little goes a long way.”

So as the golden age of soul-jazz and jazz-funk faded away, where did it leave some of the people who made a healthy livelihood from it and left us some great records like “The Worm,” “Electric Funk,” and “Groove Grease”?   With a recording date of 1983, I braced myself for lower expectations when I picked up this record cheap as dirt, and instead found myself liking it quite a bit.   Relieved not to find McGriff trading in his Hammond for a Fairlight synth or strutting around the stage with a “keytar,” he instead retrenches his roots more than he’d done since his days on Sue Records.  The repertoire is anything but contemporary, leading off with a New Orleans stroll by way of Fats Domino’s hit “I’m Walkin'”, whose vamp outro might be the funkiest thing on the record.  The album embraces a big band sound with small group arrangements, written in a way to create aural illusions that, as McGriff said to the Newark Star-Ledger reporter whose story comprises the liner notes, uses “close harmonies and voicings to make you hear some things that aren’t really there.”  Two selections are Frank Foster tunes from the songbook of the Count Basie Orchestra, “Down For the Count” and “Shiny Stockings,” and the slow blues “Since I Fell For You” has me wanting to burst out into the lyrics —

You made me leave my happy home
You took my love, and now you’re gone
Since I fell for you 

The sideman on this date all hold their own but the potential show stealers are guitarist Melvin Sparks and trombonist Clifford Adams (member of Kool & The Gang and a presence on some of my favorite soul-jazz efforts from the likes of Charles Earland and Lonnie Liston Smith).  Adams gets to trade riffs with saxophonists Marhsall Keys and Arnold Sterling on “Blow Your Horn,” the most driving tune here which also happens to have been written by legendary trombonist Bennie Green.  Drummer Vance James is a no-frills player who holds down the shuffles and the swing with aplomb; he also played on records by frequent McGriff collaborator Hank Crawford during the 80s and 90s.  The sound on this record is wonderfully full-bodied, with Rudy Van Gelder behind the board, and “production” limited to a splash of reverb on the horns.  There may be no surprises or blinding flights of inspiration on this album, but there are no gimmicks either.  A solid low-key listen for a lazy Sunday like today.

mp3 icon

flac button

24bit

Photobucket

Fritz the Cat & Heavy Traffic OST (1972-3)

Photobucket

Photobucket
Photobucket
FRITZ THE CAT Soundtrack Released 1972 (Fantasy 9406)
HEAVY TRAFFIC Soundtrack Released 1973 (Fantasy 9436)
2-on-1 CD released 1996 on Fantasy (FCD-24745-2)

Fritz the Cat is also known as:

Fritz el gato
El gato caliente
Fritz – kova kolli
Fritz il gatto
Fritz le chat
Fritz, o ponirogatos
Katten Fritz
O Gato Fritz

It has been many years since I saw either of these films, and I never realized the soundtrack had so many great musicians on it back in those days. And then I ran across a CD pressing from Fantasy containing both soundtracks and, damn, what a surprised! First a little about the films. It took me a little internet research to find a review of this film by anyone who took it halfway seriously. Here is a link to the Wikipedia synopsis of the film along with some material on its production and reception as well, including Robert Crumb’s disowning of the film.

These are very pleasant soundtracks to listen to, and the first one for Fritz the Cat should be much better known : grooving soul jazz and funk instrumentals interspersed with classics from Bo Diddley, Billie Holiday. The list of musicians is filled with some serious heavy hitters: Charles Earland, Idris Muhammad, Pretty Purdie, Cornell Dupree, Melvin Sparks, Chuck Rainey — hell, even Cal Tjader appears on one tune. I suppose this could bear a similarity to a “Blaxploitation” soundtrack even though it is about a cat, but with more jazz riffing. With the exception of the inclusion of ‘cameos’ of famous recordings, the material on this album is not found anywhere else (as far as I know) and it is exquisite early-70s soul jazz / funk. If this material had been released on individual albums attributed to the artists themselves, it would be better known and probably have made for successful titles in their catalogs — if nothing else, at least with the recognition and cult-status of a (at one time) rare record like Purdie’s soundtrack for “Leileh” released in 1974. As it stands, this soundtrack seems relatively uncelebrated by the rare-groove crowd.

The soundtrack to Heavy Traffic is also good listening but features mostly uncredited musicians (with Merle Saunders a big exception). It follows the same formula of instrumental grooves but with a few famous artists thrown in (Chuck Berry, Sergio Mendes). It’s solid but not as creative or inspired as the Fritz soundtrack, although the theme of “Scarburough Fair” running through the record is a nice touch. The storyline of this film is equally odd, if not more so, than Fritz, and a synopsis can be found at this link.

Photobucket
Photobucket

in 320 kbs em pee tree

in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

password in comments