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Sound Ideas #32 - Organized
Welcome to some well organized music, an exploration of the electric organ in the jazz idiom.
Artist Track Album
Jimmy Smith The Organ Grinder's Swing The Organ Grinder's Swing
Charles Earland Mom and Dad Front Burner
The Dave Davani Four The Champ Fused!
Jimmy McGriff Lil' Darling The Big Band
Willis Jackson You've Changed The Gatorhorn
Wes Montgomery Trio The End of a Love Affair A Dynamic New Sound
Ray Charles I've Got News for You Genius + Jazz = Soul
Donald Fagen Walk Between the Raindrops The Nightfly
Hank Crawford and Jimmy McGriff Teach Me Tonight Right Turn on Blue
Jimmy Smith I'll Drink to That Off the Top

The electric organ occupies a special place in the jazz continuum. It is not one of the original instruments and yet it ultimately played a significant role in the hard bop and later soul jazz idioms with an occasional foray into the big band sound. Jimmy Smith is often considered the father of modern jazz organs players and an assertion that I would not challenge. However, there are many others that helped the organ claim its place on the jazz trophy mantle, each with his/her unique sound and message in the music they played.

In this hour we will of course hear from Jimmy Smith, once from the mid 1960s and another time from the early 1980s still swinging with some of the best organ chops there have ever been. Charles Earland, admittedly probably my favorite organist, checks in with a number predictably in 10/4 time followed by "Mod" organist Dave Davani from the height of the British Invasion. Jimmy McGriff gives up a demonstration of the hi-fi set with a crystal clear big band outing of Neil Hefty's Lil' Darling.

The third set delivers three different organ sounds, the first courtesy of Willis Jackson's sideman, Carl Wilson, Mel Rhyme from the Wes Montgomery Trio, and finally Ray Charles alongside many Basie alum. You'll hear three very different timbres in this set along with three distinctive playing styles.

Closing out the hours we will hear again from Donald Fagen, one of the more successful crossover keyboardist of the last forty years, Jimmy McGriff along with Hank Crawford give us a stellar treatment of a standard, and Jimmy Smith et al wind up our session, literally and figuratively.

This hour barely scratches the surface of the impact that the organ, notably the Hammond B-3, has made in the jazz idiom. While often found in a trio setting with guitar and drums, the organ has made its influence heard in many settings. The organ master is one that has multitasking honed to a fine art, who much like the drummer has something going on with each limb at all times but also playing the role of at least two musicians, the soloist or accompanist, and the bass player simultaneously. Nevertheless, listening to a jazz organist can take you on a musical journey rarely afforded by other idioms or instrumentations.