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Brother Jack McDuff: Brotherly Love

Brother Jack McDuff’s last recording session was a reunion of sorts as it includes saxophonist Red Holloway and guitarist Pat Martino, star alumni from his ’60s band. With bassist Frank Gravis and drummer Grady Tate joining them, this date cooks solidly. And at the end of these studio cuts, there are two live tracks with Joey DeFrancesco sitting in with McDuff and his regular group: saxmen Andrew Beals and Jerry Weldon, guitarist John Hart and drummer Rudy Petschauer.

McDuff appeared to put thought and care in his albums, and he rarely turned in a perfunctory performance. This one is no exception. In terms of energy and busyness, his organ style fell somewhere between Jimmy Smith (frenzied) and Jimmy McGriff (economical). “Hot Barbeque,” the opener, exemplifies his funky jazz-mixed-with-hard-bop approach, which he developed in the ’60s and which later came to be described as acid jazz. On “Georgia,” he leads off with a bluesy, tastefully embellished linear melody statement, and on “April in Paris” he plays the melody locked-hands style in the manner of Milt Buckner. The tracks with DeFrancesco raise the temperature as expected, with the younger organist in high spirits but also respectful.

Martino sounds perfectly at home in this setting, with intelligent twists, pauses, turns and a selfless attitude. Holloway, on tenor all the way except for an alto statement on “Georgia,” combines bebop and a down-home spirit. With good company like this, McDuff went out swinging.

Originally Published