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On Basie's Bandstand (Live)

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Album Review

Some wags might claim there's already enough organ-based '60s soul-jazz in the Prestige catalog without throwing a previously unreleased album of the stuff on the bonfire. And your first inclination might be to dismiss this trio date, on which Richard "Groove" Holmes is joined by guitarist Gene Edwards and drummer George Randall, as more of the same old. However, though it does boast much of the expected characteristics of the Prestige sound, this live material, recorded at Count Basie's Lounge in Harlem on April 22, 1966, is above average and worth hearing. The sound quality's very good and fresh, but more importantly, the stripped-down trio arrangements boil the soul-jazz genre down to its most powerful essence. Most soul-jazz acts felt obligated to break up their up-tempo numbers with sleepy renditions of standards, but everything selected for release here's mid-tempo or faster, which, frankly, makes the nearly-hour-long program peppier than you'd expect. And at times, the speed of the rhythms verges on the manic, as on Edwards' solo on "(Back Home Again In) Indiana." On the Coleman Hawkins cover, "Rifftide" the pace gets yet more furious, like the vehemence of fellows who've had way too much coffee during their set break, leaving even the seasoned listener gasping for air like a seasick passenger holding onto the rails for dear life. Their version of Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream" is an only slightly less intense soul-jazz reading of a hard bop number. They can play a more solid, shuffling blues groove well too, though, as they do on covers of "Night Train," and Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'."

Biography

Born: May 2, 1931 in Camden, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Revered in soul-jazz circles, Richard "Groove" Holmes was an unapologetically swinging Jimmy Smith admirer who could effortlessly move from the grittiest of blues to the most sentimental of ballads. Holmes, a very accessible, straightforward and warm player who was especially popular in the black community, had been well respected on the Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey circuit by the time he signed with Pacific Jazz in the early '60s and started receiving national attention by recording with such...
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On Basie's Bandstand (Live), Richard Groove Holmes
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