July 11, 2000

Album Review

The four albums Brother Jack McDuff released on Atlantic between 1966 and 1968 were in a more purely R&B vein than the soul-jazz the organist played on his earlier work for Prestige. While the Atlantic dates had an eye on success in pop markets, they still offer jazz-organ fans plenty of McDuff's agile, driving sound. This reissue pulls together two of the releases from 1967. The programs are a mix of blues, pop tunes, standards, and McDuff originals. Atlantic's bid to get McDuff airplay means, in the interest of brevity, that almost half the tracks fade out on the endings. Throughout, McDuff makes a point of keeping a healthy portion of soulful grit in whatever he plays (a cornball cover of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" being one instance where McDuff's grit goes out the window). Four of the Tobacco Road tracks have McDuff's arrangements for a five-piece horn section. The other five tracks feature McDuff's regular quartet from this period. The highlight is the definitive version of "Wade in the Water," a gospel standard also variously attributed to McDuff or to pianist Ramsey Lewis, both of whom had hits with it. The Do it Now! date has a little more room for stretching out. Again, the players are the organist's working band, which at the time included the fine guitarist Melvin Sparks, an R&B version of an earlier McDuff collaborator, Grant Green.
Jim Todd, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Teardrops from My Eyes
  2. Tobacco Road
  3. The Shadow of Your Smile
  4. Can't Get Satisfied
  5. Blowin' in the Wind
  6. And the Angels Sing
  7. This Bitter Earth
  8. Alexander's Ragtime Band
  9. Wade in the Water
  10. Snap Back Jack
  11. Mush Melon
  12. Summer Samba (Samba de Verão)
  13. Do It Now
  14. Strolling Blues
  15. Pleasant Memories
  16. Mutt & Jeff