In the liner notes for this duo album recorded in 2000, drummer Brooks tells writer Bill Milkowski, “Every drummer can’t play with an organ …because you have the organ player playing bass lines with his left hand but he’s soloing with the right hand, so from time to time his ideas will either push him forward or push him backwards. He himself understands where the groove is at, so the organ drummer has to develop this thing to keep you locked in but stay flexible.” Like Grady Tate, Joe Dukes and Donald Bailey—examples cited in the liner notes—Brooks has this ability, and so what we have here are enhanced, in-the-pocket organ grooves plus drum fills and solos expertly tailored to the genre.
Ludwig plays solid, old-school organ, beginning with the modal “On the Trail” and following with a tasteful, loungelike “Serenade in Blue.” There is also “You’ve Changed,” another good one in the ballad department. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” is a bouncy block-chord performance—in the “Earl Gardner” style, according to Milkowski’s notes. (Does he mean Earl Grant, or perhaps Billy Gardner? The only Earl Gardner I can find a reference to is the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra lead trumpeter.)
Brooks solos on the title tune (an original by the drummer) and Neal Hefti’s “Cute,” among others. Young drummers might listen closely and take a lesson in taste, compatibility and how to accompany as well as solo from this album. And there’s Ludwig’s experienced manner of swinging and building each performance, too.