Jack McDuff, aka “Brother” Jack or “Captain” Jack, was born on September 17, 1926 in Champaign, Illinois. He died in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 23, 2001. His first musical instrument was the bass, but later, he taught himself to play the piano and organ. He went on to be one of the premier players of the Hammond B3 organ.
Over the years, McDuff built a reputation for himself playing with such jazz greats as Willis Jackson (see Jazz For A Saturday Night #22), Johnny Griffin, Max Roach, George Benson, Joe Henderson and others, including a precocious 11 year old boy named Joey DeFrancesco.
|Another Real Good ‘Un, Muse Records 1992
McDuff recorded a tremendous number of albums in his lifetime, and the one I want to discuss this time is the 1992 Muse Records release, “Another Real Good ‘Un.”
The personnel for “Another Real Good ‘Un” are as follows:
Jack McDuff, Hammond B3 Organ (all tracks)
Houston Person, tenor saxophone (all tracks)
Cecil Bridgewater, trumpet (tracks 3, 4 & 6)
Ron Bridgewater, alto and tenor saxophone (tracks 3, 4 & 6)
John Hart, guitar (tracks 3, 4 & 6)
Randy Johnston, guitar (tracks 1, 5 & 7)
Buddy Williams, drums (tracks 3, 4 & 6)
Cecil Brooks III, drums (tracks 1, 5 & 7)
Organ/Tenor Duo (McDuff, Person) on track on 2 only
With “Another Real Good ‘Un” we are presented with seven songs, three of which were written by McDuff. The running time for the album is short by today’s standards, a bit over forty-five minutes. But what a forty-five minutes it is!
The set opens with the title track, which, like so many of McDuff’s other compositions, is a delightfully funky, bluesy number. Johnston’s guitar and Brooks’ drums are standouts on this one. It’s a real pleasure to sit back and shut my eyes and just listen to McDuff. His love for his instrument and the music seems to flow out of every note, leading you along, phrase after phrase.
The Gershwin/Heyward classic “Summertime” is up next. This one opens with McDuff giving us a subdued solo performance, more attuned to a ballad than a song which usually is more upbeat. A little over three minutes in, McDuff is joined by Person on that big tenor sax, and the two of them make a duet of it most of the rest of the way through. “Summertime” runs just shy of nine minutes, quite a long time for such a mellow piece of music. The artistry of the two men will hold your attention, however, and when the song does end you will find yourself saying “already?”
Next up we have an enthusiastic Cecil Bridgewater composition, “Off The Beaten Path,” a much livelier song than its predecessor. Whereas “Summertime” could make a good lullaby to send you off to sleep at the end of the day, “Off The Beaten Path” is the blaring alarm clock (or perhaps your kid) the next morning that will come running into the room, strip away the bedding and dump you on the floor, all the while yelling “Enough lying there, get up! It’s time to do something!”
“Off The Beaten Path” is followed by the other two McDuff originals, “Long Day Blues” and “Rock Candy.” The former is another gentle ballad, the kind of song that often is described as burning with a quiet, white hot intensity, or some such over-worked phrase. Unfortunately, at the moment, I am hard-pressed to come up with an apt description that rivals that one for both clarity of intent and brevity.
Here is Jack McDuff, performing “Long Day Blues.”
“Rock Candy,” on the other hand, takes off running from the first note and does not let up until the song ends just over seven minutes later. This is one of the great B3 classic songs and the guys give it a wonderful effort that you won’t forget.
Here is a somewhat different version of “Rock Candy.”
“I Can’t Get Started,” from Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin, is next. This is another ballad, suited to late nights when your company is gone home and the lights are turned down low. This song has a haunting sound to it, and both Person’s sax and Bridgewater’s trumpet add to the effect nicely. John Hart’s guitar work is excellent. I don’t believe I have any other albums that feature him, but I intend to find out.
The final song on the album is “I Cover The Waterfront,” one of the most storied song titles ever. The tune was written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman in 1933, based on the best-selling novel of the same name which had been published the previous year. Later in 1933 a movie was made of the novel, and of course the movie would not have been complete without the song. It’s hard to say who profited more from all this, Green and Heyman or Max Miller, the author of the novel.
As presented here, “I Cover The Waterfront” is a beautifully mellow ballad, yet another ode to late nights and good times.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you when I say that “Another Real Good ‘Un” will make a great addition to your personal playlist, for a Saturday (or any other) night!
You can learn more about Jack McDuff and his music by visiting his artist page on Concord Music Group’s web site. One sad reality is that most other sites hosting bios of McDuff are simply mirroring Ron Wynn’s minimal bio of him on the allmusic.com web site.
Your comments about this article and/or the subject are welcome! Please use the “Add a comment” area below. Rude, abusive comments and spam will be deleted.
Thank you! 🙂
Copyright © 2013 by Al Evans. All rights reserved.