Monday, March 20, 2017

Les McCann Presents "Groove" Holmes

It happens. I've seen enough posts by other record collectors online to know that I'm not the only one. When your record collection reaches a certain size....

The other day I was thumbing through records on my shelves, and was kind of shocked and surprised to find this one: Les McCann Presents Richard "Groove" Holmes. I had no memory of buying it or ever playing it, but once I played it today, it triggered a vague memory of finding it at Wax 'n' Facts in Atlanta, playing it once, and putting on the shelf. It certainly deserved a better fate than being forgotten by me.

Pianist Les McCann was already something of a star (in jazz terms) when this album was made, with several popular albums on the Pacific Jazz  label. On tour in Pittsburgh, he heard organist Richard "Groove" Holmes, and told Richard Bock of Pacific Jazz about him. This, Holmes' first album (of what would become dozens), was the result.

It was unusual, but not unheard of, to have piano and organ featured together. There is no bass, since like most jazz organists, Holmes played the bass lines with his left hand and sometimes his feet on the pedals. The music is, for the most part, genial soul jazz, but the presence of one of the true jazz greats, Ben Webster, elevates the proceedings quite a bit. And I've always loved the playing of guitarist George Freeman, one of the three Chicago Freeman brothers. (Drummer Bruz and the amazing tenor saxophonist Von were the others.) Freeman's style is odd - sort of choppy and off-center - and very interesting and individual.

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