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Hank Marr: Groovin’ It

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Hank Marr, professor of jazz studies at Ohio State University, puts the lie to the adage that those who can, play, and that those who can’t, teach. Marr, born in Columbus (home of the Buckeyes) in 1927, cut his jazz teeth in garage sessions with little Ronnie Kirk (who would later storm the scene as Rahsaan Roland Kirk). Switching to organ after falling under the sway of Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith, Marr found a niche on the 1960s’ organ-room circuit. And though academia beckoned, Marr’s Hammond B-3 was always at close hand-and foot.

Now, “discovered” anew thanks to last year’s It’s ’bout Time! (Double-Time), Marr solidifies his credentials with a trio date that sizzles and soars-and breathes. Throughout, Marr gets hand-in-glove support from guitarist Wilbert Longmire (who collaborated with the organist 33 years ago) and Bill Stewart (whose taut timekeeping has had much to do with the recent success of organist Larry Goldings). While one hears echoes of Davis’ “locked-hands” approach and Smith’s agile right-hand flights, Marr, it should be stressed, is a model of economy. Every note, every space, counts. So though re-negotiating standards like “Softwinds,” “Killer Joe” and “Misty,” it’s a flowing yet crisp “for the first time” feel which prevails.