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Jimmy McGriff
Straight Up
Milestone CD MCD-9285-2, 1998 (41:55)

Fine and dandy

Dan Macintosh

One of the great Hammond B3 players, Jimmy McGriff drops swinging grooves like a B-2 bomber. McGriff does his thing by sparring either with guitarists Rodney Jones and Wayne Boyd, or with saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Frank Wess on these eight funky tracks.

Produced totally straight up, but with sparkling sound by Bob Porter,  Straight Up brings out all the smooth and hip elements we've come to expect from McGriff. This man brings out the cool in the organ, even though he's pictured on the back cover wearing a cheesy tux that looks like he's just rented a monkey suit for a friend's wedding.

Rippling off notes, swinging like Pentecostal preacher under the power of the Spirit and creating irresistible grooves, this recording shows off what McGriff does best.

The title track is a slow-burning funk tune composed by Newman, whose flute work makes it sound like a prime time '70s AM radio jam.

And speaking of the '70s, McGriff even lays down a version of "It's Your Thing," which just happens to be a pre-disco funk workout from the Isley Brothers. The version here, with its tightly clipped playing, pays respect to all those great New Orleans recordings by the Meters.

Those in search of straight blues for their straight up diet will be pleased with Rodney Jones' "Blues For The Baby Grand," which, by the way, does not feature even a lick of piano.

Elsewhere, this disc honors a few standards ("It Had To Be You," "Dream") as well as a modern jazz standard, Sonny Rollins' "Oleo."

I give it to you straight: this is good stuff, indeed.

performers  Jimmy McGriff, Hammond B3 organ; David "Fathead" Newman, tenor saxophone, flute; Frank Weiss, tenor saxophone, flute; Rodney Jones, Wayne Boyd, guitars; Bernard Purdie, drums;

songs  Doin' My Thing · It Had to Be You · Straight Up · Blues for the Baby Grand · It's Your Thing · Dream · Brother Griff · Oleo

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