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Jimmy McGriff: McGriff’s House Party

“So I Got to Groove” is the title of a Tower of Power song, but it could very well be Jimmy McGriff’s motto in a subtler sense. The Philadelphia organist knows how to initiate an infectious rhythmic feeling and keep it happening via hip footwork and judicious keyboard jabs. Of course, it helps that guitarist Rodney Jones and drummer Bernard Purdie are aboard, along with guest organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, trumpeter Kenny Rampton and tenormen Eric Alexander and Bill Easley.

The party starts with Jones’ “Neckbones,” a melodic cousin to “One Mint Julep,” with a little guitar fill a la James Brown’s band. Alexander’s twisting solo suggests that he may have been checking out Joe Henderson’s work on Lee Morgan’s classic The Sidewinder album. The tempo rises for Easley’s “Blues for Stitt,” wherein each saxophonist recalls the Sonny of the title and Jones demonstrates fresh melodic intervals and rhythmic agility while swinging and remaining true to the emotional spirit of the blues. In fact, Jones is exemplary throughout the date, perhaps inspired by fellow guitarist George Benson’s presence (as a spectator) in the control room. Benson contributes “Red Cadillac Boogaloo” to the proceedings, one of four titles that feature McGriff and Smith together. The two organists are more birds-of-a-feather than competitors. Each metes out his solo work in a manner that accentuates the rhythmic kick of the tune. Rampton growls a good one on the seesawing closer “Dishin’ the Dirt.” All told, this house party, one of the organist’s best, is worth revisiting often.

Originally Published