JazzTimes 10: Classic Organ Jazz Albums

What to hear when you need to get your Hammond on

6. Shirley Scott: Great Scott! (Prestige, 1958)

Shirley Scott was consistently underrated throughout her career, surely because she was a woman. And we’ll admit it: Number six on this list is really too low for her. She had to follow Wild Bill Davis, however, because one of Scott’s signatures was the way she reasserted Davis’ uproarious sense of swing in the new hard-bop organ tradition. Her energy all but leaps bodily out of the keys. “All of You,” for example, has a churchy feel, but it’s of the holy-roller, get-up-and-move variety. “Four” is a somewhat unexpected piece for jazz organ repertoire, but when Scott plays it one is hard-pressed to imagine it was ever intended for any other instrument. If she’s not quite as commanding on “Cherokee,” she does make it work—and makes it fun too. (Note: This album is Scott’s debut, but only one of three albums she released under the same title.)

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.