Sunday, August 5, 2012

VA - Hammond Heroes : 60's R&B Organ Grooves

There is actually as much jazz and rock & roll as R&B on this intriguing and generous (it comes in with a running time of just under 80 minutes) disc from Bear Family, which features instrumentals from almost two dozen Hammond B3 players popular in Britain in the 1960s. Among the highlights of Hammond Heroes: 60's R&B Heroes are Steve Winwood's "Stevie's Groove," recorded in 1966 when he was still a member of the Spencer Davis Group; the fiery "Zoom Widge and Way" from drummer Bobby Graham with Kenny Salmon on organ; a hard-charging and jazz-inflected version of the gospel classic "Wade in the Water" with Graham Bond at the keys and a rhythm section of Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums from 1965, and the Nice's rendition of Charles Lloyd's "Sombrero Sam," featuring Keith Emerson on organ, from 1968. Also worth noting is the massive, swelling "Back in the Grass" recorded by the group Motherhood in 1968, and featuring Klaus Doldinger on tenor sax and James "Ham" Jackson on organ. The liner notes for this set are top-notch, beginning with a brief history of Laurens Hammond, the man who invented the Hammond organ (he also invented those familiar red and green 3-D glasses, by the way), and once he added Don Leslie's rotating speaker system to the organ frame, a stone cold classic instrument came to life. What we need now is for Bear Family to do a companion volume of American Hammond players like Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, and Jimmy McGriff.

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