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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stephenson's Rocket - Mike Carr's Blue Note Band.

Back in 1968 or was it 1969? I heard (on LP) "Hammond Under Pressure". Mike Carr (organ) and Tony Crombie (dms) were the 'pressurisers'; no bass player. This was, quite simply, the best organ disc I'd ever heard. It had always been a source of puzzlement to me why the Jimmy Smiths, the McGriffs and the McDuffs used a bass player rather than the instrument's pedalboard; after all, your average club or church organist manages the pedals with varying degrees of success, why not the so-called 'world's greatest'? After a few plays, it occurred to me that Mike Carr was doing a helluva lot more than his much vaunted contemporaries - and he was putting down better basslines with the pedals than their bassists were doing!
In consequence, I registered my vote for Mike in the annual Down Beat Poll of 1969. Needless to say, Jimmy Smith, who'd been winning organ polls seemingly since Bach retired, won with 2945 votes. I don't know how many Mike scored as they didn't list those names who amassed less than 30. Maybe he only got my vote.
Nevertheless, I remain convinced that Mike was, and indeed still is, the world's finest jazz organist and I was delighted to see my opinions vindicated by Wally Houser in the August 2002 edition of JARS - the Ronnie Scott Club house magazine - and reproduced in the sleeve notes of this CD.
The Blue Note Band brings together the Brothers Fishwick - Steve (tpt) and Matt (dms) - alongside Steve Kaldestad (ten) and of course Mike Carr - not a bass player in sight! Robert Ahwai (gtr) & Simon Morton (perc) are added on some tracks.
However, this is not just about Mike the Organ Giant but Mike the composer and arranger - and vibist/pianist.
The tunes are all in the hard bop style associated with Blue Note Records and several are dedicated to such luminaries as Dizzy, Bird and Milt as well as his former colleague in the Emcee 5 - the late Ronnie Stephenson. With the two Steves attuned to the idiom and driven along by Matt on drums this disc can walk tall alongside anything from Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio - and I am an avid collector of Blue Note's.
I'd like to see the band booked by Jazz North East - did I hear a whisper somewhere that it was in the pipeline?
Lance

1 comment :

emcee said...

Thanks for the Write up you did a great job.

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