Good Friday to everyone. This one’s gonna be on the short side, as I totally forgot I have the day off from work, and I am going to try and enjoy the day, maybe dig a bit, and relax as much as I can. Since yesterday was the first day of Spring (you could hardly tell here, with the wind it felt like a Winter day), I originally was going to post “Spring Fever by the Music Makers, but in light of the cold weather, I think I’ll save it until I at least don’t need a scarf. I’m gonna set the holiday weekend off in a Soul Jazz way people. Here is another one of my favorite artists, a guy who can deliver a Soul message just a notch above the rest. I am speaking on Richard “Groove” Holmes and “Living Soul” on Prestige Records from 1966.
Richard Arnold Holmes was born in Camden, NJ in 1931. Nicknamed “Groove” because of the groove he kept while playing the organ, whether it was a standard, up tempo, ballad, or interpretation of the day’s music. He signed with Pacific Jazz in 1961, and had a short career recording wise. His most famous side was “Misty”, recorded in 1965. His impact on Soul Jazz, and the B3 community, as well as laying down the roots for Acid Jazz some 30 years before the genre and tremendous. He recorded most notably for Pacific Jazz, Prestige, Loma, Olympic, Flying Dutchman, Columbia, Groove Merchant, and Muse, although he did release sides on a few other labels later on in his career. With a keen ear for interpretation, lightning quick hands and feet, and the ability to lay down a bad ass bass groove, this New Jersey and Philly favorite son’s reputation was legendary. His records with Gene Ammons and Ben Webster, as well as his battles with Jimmy Smith, showed his tenacity on the organ, and as a large man (over 300 lbs.), his intimidating presence was felt not just on the keys. You knew when Groove was in the room. He died in 1991 at the age of 60 in St. Louis, MO. For me, along with Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack, McDuff, and others, Groove was definitely one of the first Soul Jazz guys I got into when I was collecting.
This particular side was captured in Harlem at Count Basie’s Night Club. The trio of Holmes, George Randall on drums, and Gene Edwards on guitar are a perfect example why Groove was so popular as he was during that time period. The guy could go on forever all night, with just the Hammond and slay audiences. He deserves a spot in the Jazz Funk Hall of Fame if there ever was one. I could only hope that there was some stuff like this going on around me in this day and age. I saw Jimmy Smith in San Francisco in the 90’s, and he blew me away. I have no doubts that if I had ever seen Groove, he would have done the same. Have a great weekend and see you on Monday. Keep diggin’!