Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jamestown at The Blue Martini, and other news

BTW, I didn't know that Tyriq also plays guitar. But, neither am I surprised.

Well, if you wanna hear a fine-looking, tight funk band with great vocals...

This ain't the best venue, at least on a weekend. The place is huge, and was jammed. With a visibly and eardrum-assaulting non-music agenda. It's a chic shoulder-to-shoulder silicon and steroidal peacock strut, a spiked heels fertility festival -- the proverbial meat market. The ambient background crowd noise had to be 80 dB or higher.

And, Im tryin' to recall whether I've ever heard a worse house sound system. The (underlit) stage is back behind a bar, and there's an oval array of small overhead P.A. cabinets horizontally affixed above the bar. The sound was a mush of low and mid-range Hz, within which the vocals were maddenly buried. Maybe the house will get a grip on the sound situation, but this was frustrating.

I'm glad the cats have this debut gig, but I hope to see them soon in a venue that will do justice to the talent.


After we split from The Blue Martini, we bopped straight across the 2nd level to Louis's Fish Camp, just to see what was goin' on. There we found a 4 pc blues group, led by Junior Brantley, and featuring Cheryl Justice on guitar (below). Very nice. I was not previously hip to them.

(That's not my pic, btw)


Cuz Jojo apprises me of sad news:
Hi BG,

Just read today that our old Homeboy, the great acclaimed blues organist, Jimmy McGriff, passed away at 72 in a NJ nursing home. I remember going into Newark with Clay and Ward to see him a few times, in small up-close clubs. He studied with Jazz great Jimmy Smith, but was never considered a jazz organist. More in the style of Blues/R&B like our fav, Brother Jack McDuff. In 1962, he had a hit with the Ray Charles tune, "I've Got a Woman" that actually launched his career. Might want to mention it in the blog. Talk to ya, Jojo :-)

James Harrell McGriff was born on April 3, 1936, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, birthplace of many of jazz's greatest organists. He started playing piano at the age of five and by his teens, was also playing alto sax and upright bass. His first group was a piano trio, which found him playing bass in the band. When he joined the Army, McGriff served as an MP in Korea and settled in on a career as police officer for Philadelphia's finest, a gig which only lasted a little more than two years.

Music kept drawing McGriff's attention away from the police force. His childhood friend, organist Jimmy Smith, had begun earning a substantial reputation in jazz for his Blue Note records (the two played together once in 1967) and McGriff became entranced by the organ sound while Richard "Groove" Holmes played at his sister's wedding. Holmes went on to became McGriff's teacher, friend and, on two occasions in 1973, his sparring partner for two Groove Merchant records.

In April 1960, McGriff made the switch and started playing organ. He was greatly influenced by the energy and dynamics of organist Milt Buckner and the diplomatic aplomb of Count Basie. But such local pianists as Sonny Gatewood, Howard Whaley and Austin Mitchell held his favor too. McGriff formed a combo that played around Philadelphia and often featured upcoming tenor sax player, Charles Earland, who soon switched permanently to organ when he saw how much fun McGriff was having at the organ. During this time, McGriff also accompanied such artists as Don Gardner, Arthur Prysock, Candido and Carmen McRae who came through town for local club dates.

In 1961, McGriff's trio was offered the chance to record an instrumental version of Ray Charles's hit "I've Got A Woman" by Joe Lederman's Jell Records, a small independent label. When the record received substantial local airplay, Juggy Murray's Sue label picked it up and recorded a full album of McGriff's trio, released in 1962. The album also turned out another huge hit in McGriff's "All About My Girl," firmly establishing McGriff's credentials as a fiery blues-based organist, well-versed in gospel soul and fatback groove...

Click here for his full bio and discography.


Our amazing jazz guitar bro' Robert Conti gigged with Jimmy McGriff. See the segment from 1:36 to 2:08 in the clip below.


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