January/February 1997

Al Grey
Me n Jack
Pullen Music

Capt. Jack McDuff and his B-3 are very good for Al Grey. McDuff plays fully orchestral backgrounds and stimulating riffs the way capable reed or brass sections should. He is, and has long been, the most satisfying organist around, one not given to bombastic ego trips. He is, no pun intended, a fine organizer, too.

The other four members of the group are: Jerry Weldon, of McDuff's band, on tenor; Joe Cohn, son of Al, on guitar; Jerome Hunter on bass; and last, but far from least, Bobby Durham on drums. When you consider all the puffed-up celebrities referred to as lions, icons and giants nowadays, it's amazing that Durham isn't in Grove or the Feather-Gitler
encyclopedias. He's a great drummer.

Except on the calypsoish "Grey Rose Shore" and the ever-solemn "God Bless the Child," McDuff's rhythmic power ensures that all the performances have a strong, invigorating beat. When Basie made a plunger-soloist of Grey, he did him a big favor, for he expresses himself with the mute more logically and convincingly than when playing open horn, when empty virtuosity tends to take over. Joe Cohn is tasteful and imaginative at all times, and Weldon, new to me, has a loose, uncrowded style that is enjoyable to hear.

In short, a CD much superior to most being made by small groups today. - Stanley Dance

Originally published in January/February 1997
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