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Jimmy McGriff: Feelin’ It

A set I saw by McGriff and Hank Crawford at an outdoor blues festival several years ago was one of the most economical and effective blues performances I’ve ever witnessed. Feeling and the right groove are what the organist delivers. Nothing flashy, but he keeps you thirsting for more. And so here’s another taste, Feelin’ It, another Bob Porter-produced album right down McGriff’s alley.

Bill Easley on tenor saxophone, Wayne Boyd on guitar and Don Williams on drums join the leader on three tracks. Easley switches to alto for four sextet tracks that include tenor saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman, baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, guitarist Melvin Sparks and drummer Kenny Washington plus McGriff. The horns kick off the solo turns on Stanley Turrentine’s “Stan’s Shuffle,” the medium-tempo opener, with Easley lean and soulful, Newman smooth and rolling and Cuber boppish and blustery. Sparks exercises his chops and bent strings, and McGriff swings comfortably in the groove.

The Sparks-penned title track is a boogaloo with a gospel feeling. McGriff walks the pedals with infectious steps here and also on his own “Sermonizing.” “Just in Time,” the lone standard, is appropriately warm and romantic. The funky “City Lights,” which was the title cut on a 1980 McGriff album, catches Easley’s tenor in a King Curtis bag.

I hope there’ll always be a place for this kind of music in the record industry and on the scene. It’s a reservoir of the right stuff.

Originally Published