ORGANized! (Favorite and Classic Organ Performances)

Rudy

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Here's a catch-all for some of our favorite organ tracks and albums. These need not be albums or songs by an organist--they can also be tracks where organ is featured prominently. I was a fan of the Hammond B3 sound long before I knew what kind of organ it was.

I'll kick it off with a few picks for the day.

From Lonnie Smith's first album as a soloist, for Columbia. At this time, he was a sideman in George Benson's group, and Benson returns the favor on this record. "Hola Muneca" would also be covered on Lonnie Smith's lone album on Kudu.



This has long been my favorite David Sanborn album, Upfront. Midway through the album is this downtempo soul smoker:



El Chicano is a more recent find of mine. I'd located the track "Viva Tirado" well over a dozen years ago for an instrumental compilation I was making at the time. I've since gotten the album and it is representative of the Latino soul that was popular in Los Angeles in the early 70s. Bobby Espinosa plays the organ on the title track.

 

Harry

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I sure remember "Viva Tirado!" by El Chicano fondly from its initial appearance on radio. It was picked to be played by this radio station I listened to alongside the Carpenters and the Bobby Goldsboro tracks of the day. Quite an odd little instrumental from my perspective, but it grew on me. I still have the LP that the radio station used on-air.

A&M/Mayfair in London put out a version by Johnny Pearson and the London Stereo 70 Orchestra. No organ, but another cover of that great instrumental.

 

Mike Blakesley

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When we had our music store, our boss loved "easy listening" music, so he ordered a "starter package" of about 25 albums in the London "Phase 4" series, one of which was the album ORGANIZED by Chris Waxman on the Hammond organ, which we used as a demo record for older customers. It makes a good stereo demo because the producers did a lot of sweeps of the sound across the channels. (I thought that album was the subject of this thread, at first!) In a nice little A&M-related touch, the album kicks off with a fairly wild version of "Mas Que Nada."

I don't know much about the performer but I do know that he's from Germany and his real name is Klaus Wunderlich and he's got about a zillion albums out, as recently as 2011, but I've only ever heard this one. Maybe they were trying to crack the American market with this album.


This Youtube link plays the whole album front to back, and the uploader has removed the gaps between the songs, so it sounds like a continuous organ recital with no breaks.

I used to like this album a lot because I took organ lessons for several years and always wished I could get the sounds out of our Hammond that this guy did... but for me the album has not aged well. My favorite song on it was always "Up Up And Away," which kicks off side 2 at 16:38 on the video.
 

Rudy

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I sure remember "Viva Tirado!" by El Chicano fondly from its initial appearance on radio. It was picked to be played by this radio station I listened to alongside the Carpenters and the Bobby Goldsboro tracks of the day. Quite an odd little instrumental from my perspective, but it grew on me.
It's like listening to early Santana but without the same guitar solo wailing away on each track. 😁

In fact, that first Santana album is a favorite, and I don't really care for any of the other Santana albums, other than a few tracks here and there. Greg Rolie plays a lot of organ on that record, and the rest of it sounds like the band plopped down their amps and congas in the studio and had the engineers run tape while they jammed. This is "Waiting," which leads off the album. Very much like the El Chicano album, and it's recorded better as well.

 

Rudy

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Interesting thing I learned about Genius + Soul = Jazz. I knew the band played Quincy Jones arrangements, Creed Taylor produced the album, and of course Ray Charles plays the organ, but this one was a Hammond C3 (not a B3) that was modified by Rudy Van Gelder to get a sharper attack and percussive effect when striking the keys. You can hear that in Ray's playing on this hit track:


The only difference between the B3 and C3 was the furniture style--the B3 is open on the bottom, where the C3 is closed in. Functionally the innards are the same and both output their sound into Leslie cabinets.
 
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Rudy

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Here's one from a local fella--Gerard Gibbs & ORGANized Crime. Saw him many years ago when he and his group opened for Jean-Luc Ponty. This clip is from a small jazz club not far from the house.

 

Rudy

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Here are three organ-Smiths.

Johnny "Hammond" Smith, the title track from his Kudu album Breakout.



Lonnie Smith, the title track from his Kudu album Mama Wailer.



And, Jimmy Smith, doing the title track from his album The Cat, featuring arrangements by Lalo Schifrin.



All three are produced by Creed Taylor. JImmy Smith and Lonnie Smith previously recorded for Blue Note, where Johnny Hammond recorded for Prestige.
 

Rudy

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I received this Lonnie Smith as a review copy back in the 90s and wasn't sure about wanting to play it. But once it hit the CD player, it stayed planted there for a while. While the tunes on this CD (and the Purple Haze CD, from the same sessions but was released earlier) were originally performed by Jimi Hendrix, Lonnie Smith, John Abercrombie (long known for his ECM albums and collaborations) and Marvin "Smitty" Smith knock this completely into a soul-jazz mode, and the original melody is just a suggestion at this point. The killer beat in this one drives it all the way to the end.


The CD concludes with the Lonnie Smith composition "Jimi Meets Miles," which is seemingly a random name assigned to a riff that he has played throughout the years. (His cover version of Sly & The Family Stone's "Stand" from the Mama Wailer album takes up the entire album side, the melody portion only expending the first couple of minutes, followed by a greasy funk groove for a few minutes past that, and the last half of the track is this same riff). Abercrombie, as always, has an unusual approach to his guitar solos. (Early in his career, Abercrombie toured with organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith while attending Berklee.)

 

bob knack

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I sure remember "Viva Tirado!" by El Chicano fondly from its initial appearance on radio. It was picked to be played by this radio station I listened to alongside the Carpenters and the Bobby Goldsboro tracks of the day. Quite an odd little instrumental from my perspective, but it grew on me. I still have the LP that the radio station used on-air.

A&M/Mayfair in London put out a version by Johnny Pearson and the London Stereo 70 Orchestra. No organ, but another cover of that great instrumental.

A little Pink Panther Mancini-ish.
 

JOv2

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My three favourite organists from the 1960s:

Larry Young. Grant Green's appearance on the 1964 "organ trio" LP, Talkin About!, would casually suggest the stereotypical jazz/R&B date -- but given Elvin Jones' presence, that would not be the case. Many folks don't know that for a spell there in 1963-65, Grant was actually participating in and himself cutting some fine post-bop LPs (of which this is one). As for Larry Young, his approach to organ is a whole different bag relative to other organists of the day: his Blue Note LPs are post-bop, progressive affairs. Into Somethin' adds the fascinating Sam Rivers (whom my son is named after) on tenor sax, while Unity is regarded as a minor classic LP. All of Larry's Blue Notes are recommended for melodically exploratory organ playing. In 1969 he teamed up with Tony Williams and John McLaughlin in The Tony Williams Lifetime to form an exploratory "organ trio" setting.

John Patton. Though fun to dance to and enjoy on its own terms, am not really a die-hard fan of the bump-'n-grind-3-chord-blues classic '60s organ trio muse...yet I could listen to Big John all day long. To my ears he has that something extra that sets him apart from the pack.

Booker T. Jones. In the pop bag, Booker in the late '60s made some fine instrumental fair with his band, The M.G.'s. Booker's organ playing is eloquent and distinctive. (Beginning with ...Sounds Like... -- when the TjB as an ensemble started to drive their sound harder -- I always wished that they had taken a musical direction similar to Booker's band, who cut a some excellent instrumental pop LPs in the late '60s.) Honorable mention goes to Garth Hudson from The Band...who can forget Chest Fever?
 

Mike Blakesley

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Seeing Rudy mention Santana above, I can't believe I didn't immediately think about mentioning my own favorite Santana "organ" moment -- it's the solo played by Gregg Rolie in "Oye Como Va," from the Abraxas album. There's a record I haven't played in a while, I need to rectify that.
 

Rudy

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From 1980, this hit by the pop group Ambrosia has an organ solo starting around 2:35, and is also added to the mix from that point forward. I remember latching onto the song back in the day just because of this organ solo.



Also, this Steely Dan track from Gaucho: "My Rival" is full of organ licks.

 

Rudy

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That's one I forgot...that and the first Bossa Rio album.

While it's not an organ-based track, "Summer Breezin'" by George Duke plays an "organ" solo on the synthesizer, and somehow he was able to get a sound that recalls Walter Wanderley's sound on all those Verve records of his. (Solo starts after the 2-minute mark.)


(It's the George Duke A Brazilian Love Affair album that is the best Sergio Mendes album you've never heard--in fact, they share some musicians between them.)

I do like Wanderley's sound, with Rain Forest and Batucada being my favorites, and the album with Astrud is pretty good too. Don't really care for his CTi albums though.
 

Harry

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I tend to like Walter Wanderley's two A&M albums more than most. As usual, I read complaints about strings and sweet vocals, all of which makes it sound great to me. I was lucky to score both albums from Japan on CD. (WHEN IT WAS DONE UCCU 9362 and MOONDREAMS 9363), and I also have his CD with Astrud Gilberto, A CERTAIN SMILE, A CERTAIN SADNESS.


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lj

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Here is Wanderley with his beautiful rendition of "One of the Nicer Things" from his Moondreams album. The first time I heard it in the 1970s I instantly knew it was Walter Wanderley and thought the song had a Brazilian feel to it and was written by a Brazilian composer. But lo and behold it was written by none other than Jimmy Webb. A great arrangement. The album jacket said Walter and Deodato wrote the album's arrangements. Now that's a great Brazilian team.

 

lj

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Here is the terrific opening theme--using a jazzy organ-- to the first game ever of ABC Monday Night Football--September 1970. This great theme was used between 1970-1975. The excitement was palpable as Joe Namath and the NY Jets were in town before nearly 90,000 Cleveland Browns fans. Cleveland won.

 

lj

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Harry--Thanks for your reference to Keith Jackson. He had a perfect voice for announcing and spoke with a sense of gravitas. Due to contractional arrangements, he had to vacate his MNF seat to Frank Gifford after only one season. A big mistake on ABC's part.
I've posted the complete 45 version of the MNF theme written by the great Charles Fox. He also wrote the music for Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" and the "Love American Style" TV theme.

 

Bobberman

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I have Johnny Pearson's version of the Second Monday night football called "Heavy Action " I believe that's the title and it's currently available in its full 2 minute unedited glory on one of the many KPM Download albums released over the last couple decades I remember that one best
 

Rudy

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Getting back on topic...

Stevie Ray Vaughan's third album Soul to Soul is kind of weak in places, but he does add keyboards to some of the tracks (Vaughan and Double Trouble were a trio format). The instrumental opening track, "Say What!", adds in some Hammond B3. Sadly it's not Stevie's best playing (that wouldn't happen until In Step), but it's a basic blues riff that must have been a blast to play.

 
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