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Jared Sims on Hammond B-3 Classics

Saxophonist picks tracks by Jimmy McGriff, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Groove Holmes and more

Jared Sims (photo courtesy of the artist)
Jared Sims (photo courtesy of the artist)

I’m sharing my favorite vintage Hammond B-3 organ tracks. This music is primarily from the Chitlin’ Circuit—nightclubs that provided African-American audiences with bluesy and energetic jazz. This music thrived not only in New York City but also in smaller cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Richmond. My favorite organ tracks tend to be live recordings. I enjoy the magic that comes from a powerful groove and the interaction among skilled musicians.

Willis Gator Jackson & Richard “Groove” Holmes
The Definitive Black and Blue Sessions: Live on Stage (Black & Blue, 2003; rec. Jan. 26, 1980)
This band takes a simple lead-sheet tune and creates a transcendent masterpiece. Willis Jackson launches into a hard-blowing and intense saxophone solo that is fueled by backbeats and thick organ textures. Groove Holmes and Steve Giordano continue with ferocious solos followed by a shout chorus. The improvisation and group playing are so captivating that the melody on the head out serves as a reminder of how far the listener has journeyed. This configuration of players could easily sound like they’re in a blowing session, but the group instead plays like a band. I asked Roger Humphries, the drummer on this record, how this recording came together and he simply replied that they all really enjoyed themselves and locked in musically on this European tour. They indeed were able to capture the exuberance on tape!

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