Jelly Home

all the articles, back to 1995

what’s Jelly got to do with it?

The Jelly Jar
factoids, jokes & links

search / tips


Buy now at

Ron Levy’s Wild Kingdom
Zim Zam Zoom: Acid Blues on B-3,  Bullseye Blues CD BB 9570, 1996 (51:14)

Yes, Virginia, there is no such thing as acid-blues.

We have to get one thing straight right out of the gate. This record is touted as the "first-ever Acid-Blues record...a unique melding of blues groove and jazz sensibility." Well, I don’t buy it. I can think of at least three records released in the ’60s and ’70s that represent an entire genre of instrumental organ jazz played on blues forms. Bob Porter himself produced and Rudy Van Gelder himself recorded Johnny Hammond Smith’s 1969  Soul Talk on Prestige. Talk about a melding of blues groove and jazz sensibility. What about John Patton’s 1969  Accent On The Blues, again recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, this time for Blue Note? And I can’t leave out Groove Holmes. Check out his 1977 LP for Muse,  Good Vibrations, once again recorded by Van Gelder and produced by Bob Porter. Now these are only what I could come up with off the top of my head. Rest assured that garage sales and record stores around the country are littered with dozens of other examples (and if you find them, send them to me). The most I’ll concede is that this might be the first soul-jazz album recorded by Rudy Van Gelder and produced by Bob Porter not released on LP.

So who cares if Levy coined a new term for an old groove? How does it sound? As it turns out, not bad. Levy has all the right cats, starting with Porter and Van Gelder, of course, but he also includes giants of the genre drummer Idris Muhammad and guitarist Melvin Sparks. Levy also adds the requisite tenor sax and congas, but, for a twist, throws in bass (unheard of) and trombone. The boys swing hard through eight tunes, including five penned by Levy.

For the most part, it’s funky and everybody plays their ass off. Their version of Ma Rainey’s "CC Rider" is done as a gospel rave-up with Levy contributing an intro that is pure Jimmy McGriff. They do meander here and there (somewhere in the middle of the seven minute Levy blues, "U Rockin’ Me," for instance), but your party guests will never notice as they shout for more drinks above the noise. Interestingly, though, Levy never seems to open up with the organ pyrotechnics he pulled out for his 1993 release,  B-3 Blues and Grooves, also on Bullseye. The guy has some serious organ chops, but it sounds like he might be saving up for his next project.

This record does not have the sound, though. If you’ve heard those old LPs, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a kind of reverb wash that runs through the whole thing, and it sounds like two mono channels instead of one stereo for some reason. It took me right back. Right back to my LPs, that is. In a triumph for vinyl, the sound that Van Gelder and Porter were able to get on LP absolutely kills the sound on this CD. In comparison (and in comparison only), the CD sounds flat and lifeless.

So where does that leave us? If you already have a collection of ’60s and ’70s soul-jazz, this one’s not going to put you over the top. But, as far as I can tell, none of the LPs mentioned above are available on CD, so it’s not a bad place to start if you prefer the shiny 5" format. If nothing else, I’m hoping that Ron Levy just jump-started a movement to reissue all those old Porter/Van Gelder sides.–  Jason Staczek


Ron Levy, B-3 organ; Melvin Sparks, guitar; Idris Muhammad, drums; Stanley Banks, bass; Ralph Dorsey, congas; Gordon Beadle, tenor saxophone; Ray Greene, trombone.


Produced by Ron Levy and Bob Porter; recorded and mastered by Rudy Van Gelder.

song titles

Zim Zam Zoom • CC Rider • Lost Tribes • U Rockin’ Me • Sons of Abraham • Silver Cannonball • Last Go Round • Lonely Avenue

Copyright © 1997 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.