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Brother Jack McDuff: Moon Rappin’ (Blue Note)

A review of the organist's re-released 1969 album

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Brother Jack McDuff: Moon Rappin' (Blue Note)
The cover of Moon Rappin’ by Brother Jack McDuff

The spiritual, organ-grinding predecessor to orchestrator/keyboardist Dexter Wansel’s spaced-out Life on Mars, this 1969 Blue Note release (and 2022 re-release) finds Brother Jack McDuff going beyond his usual hard bop, steady grooves, and blues jams into something stratospheric, ambient, and conceptual.

Together with guitarist Jerry Byrd, drummer/synthesizer player Joe Dukes, reeds-and-flute man Bill Phillips, and heavenly disembodied vocalist Jean DuShon, organist McDuff looks to the era’s Apollo moon-landing fever and finds himself (and his aptly titled compositions such as “Loose Foot”) sailing around the satellites of Jupiter in a free, funky fashion. At the very least, Brother Jack and Co. are freer and funkier than on his stock soul-jazz efforts of the gritty 1960s and his Prestige label days. Opening up, and out, trembling, reverb-heavy tracks such as the epic “Flat Backin’” and “Made in Sweden” combine his organ’s rippling, barking improvisational tones with Byrd’s sensuous, wah-wah-centric guitar licks and Phillips’ flighty flutes.

While a piano provides a heartbeat’s percussion on the title tune, the rest of the album drifts wispily on a cloud of luxuriating blues vamps from McDuff amid the free floating of his accompanists—all so charming, and such an anomaly in his catalog.

Learn more about Moon Rappin’ at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

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