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Book Of The Blues (International Release) CD

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Product details

1. See The Rider
2. Organ Grinder
3. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
4. Mean Old Frisco Blues
5. I'm Gonna Move On The Outskirt Of Town
6. Your Red Wagon
7. "How Long, How Long Blues"
8. In The Dark
9. Roll 'Em Pete
10. Blues For Big Fred
11. Please Send Me Someone To Love
12. Tobacco Road

Product Description

BBC Review

Richard "Groove" Holmes never attained the same kind of super star status as Hammond legend Jimmy Smith - despite being equally skilled in the keyboard pyrotechnics department. This collection features a grittier, good time approach than Smith's albums for Blue Note and later Verve Records. In the 1970s' Holmes pioneered funk and fusion sounds - often using wah wah pedals and other effects to augment the basic Hammond sound, but here the approach is straight ahead but no less moving.

Recorded around the same time as Jimmy Smiths' first big band recordings, Book of the Blues does very much what it says on tin, as Holmes wanders through the standard mid 60's blues songbook in quartet and big band settings. No matter what the setting, Holmes' soulful organ solos, backed by his own rocksteady pedal bass work, pulse with swing and in-the-pocket timing, surging from understated trills in the upper register to full on intense church style preaching that falls just the right side of overpowering.

The earthy balled "How Long, How Long Blues" showcases this gospel approach magnificently, Holmes' double-handed chord voicings producing some old school but utterly stunning crescendos of sound, juxtaposed by mellow passages as the rhythm section keep the tempo, allowing Holmes to gently groove right around the beat.

In stark contrast "Roll Em Pete" is a foot stomping swing number where Holmes gets a chance to display his incredible coordination, asscattershot soloing rides overasteadfast organ bass line- a feat akin to playing two instruments at the same. The unnamed guitarist supplies some fine and fluid soloing as this number roars ahead - it's impossible to remain static under the onslaught until the typically grandiose finale puts a seal on the proceedings.

Groove Holmes remains the jazz organists' organist - and this even this straightahead set hints at the way that organ jazz was to develop over the coming decade; good time, soulful sounds but always with enough 'art' to keep your ears happy whilst your foot taps along! --Greg Boraman

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--This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Jazz Organ with Strings 12 Jun. 2014
By Donald E. Gilliland - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I’m a big fan of jazz organ players, so when I saw this CD at a local shop last year I snatched it up. I was only vaguely familiar with Richard “Groove” Holmes, having heard a few tracks by him on some compilations, but when the cover of this CD hailed him as “the Greatest Jazz Organist of our Time,” that got my attention. The greatest jazz organist? Better than Jimmy Smith or Brother Jack McDuff or Jimmy McGriff or Babyface Willette? This I had to hear!

At first, I was quite disappointed. Holmes’ playing was not at fault, but the material wasn’t as dynamic as I had hoped and some of the arrangements didn’t gel at all, especially when they added a string section. The guy that did the string arrangements on this album, Onzy Matthews, had also worked in a similar capacity with Lou Rawls. Maybe the fact that Lou was singing on those songs meshed better with string arrangements, but I found them jarring in the context of the organ playing by Groove Holmes. So, this is not a bad album, and will surely be of interest to jazz organ buffs, but it’s one that I think could have been much better.

In case you wondered, there was no Volume 2 of “The Book of the Blues.” In fact, this was the only album that Holmes recorded for Warner Brothers. The album didn’t sell well and his contract was not renewed, or so say the liner notes that come with this CD. These notes, written by Bob Porter, are very informative and give the reader/listener the necessary background information about Holmes and this album project. As we find out, the band that Matthews used for this project was unusual for its time, integrating White studio veterans with Black jazz artists such as Sonny Criss, Clifford Scott, Ray Crawford, and Horace Tapscott.
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