Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Review

Jack McDuff: Live At Parnell’s (Soul Bank Music)

BJM1

9

6.0

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UK release date 14.10.2022

Soul Bank Music release a previously unearthed gem by late B-3 organ great Jack McDuff (A.K.A. "Brother" Jack McDuff or "Captain" Jack McDuff) and the results are nothing short of dazzling. Especially, considering it was mined from a degrading old cassette. But, the wonders of modern technology have brought to light a searing magical performance from one of the grand masters of hammond groove. "Live At Parnells" is made up of 15 tracks selected from a 4-night engagement at the Seattle club in June 1982.

The first thing you notice is how cookin' the band is, starting with the explosive drum intro to "Make It Good". This is a bristling start to proceedings with alto sax player Danny Wolinski, who invokes shades of Charlie Parker-like brilliance, setting it up sweetly for guitarist Henry Johnson, whose serpentine hard bop solo emphatically cuts the mustard. McDuff is in no hurry to exert any type of band leader’s braggadocio, as he saves his measured solo for last.

Next up, "Untitled D Minor", which starts like Bach, before it hits an extremely thrusting and fast pace again, Wollinski’s brilliance shines through with some top comping from Johnson. "Deja Vu" sees a funky groove appear, with a strong hammond heading to the fore with its very pleasing and assured sound, as it merges into the gospel funkiness of "Fly Away". A track which later breaks cover into medium swing, letting the bounce and shuffle of the rhythm section do their splendid work.

McDuff comes into his own on the bluesy "Another Real Goodun’". Here at least, equalling the magic of Jimmy Smith, the two titan technicians of the genre. It’s greasy and perfect nightclub music and the drummer gives it a great Chicago-type shuffle, which adds to the incredible energy these guys can muster and it swings heavy.

The repertoire is strong and has plenty of variety, as is the case with the choppy and rhythmic dexterity on "Night In Tunisia". The band is fully rehearsed and on it with these great arrangements. The suspenseful intro is masterful, before the regular groove of "Killer Joe" kicks in and suffice to say, the band are on top form and virtuosic to the core.

All things considered, this is a well-executed release, brought to life by the unswerving passion of Greg Boraman, A&R/label boss of Soul Bank Music, who has also been busy releasing cut glass gems from the likes of Brian Auger. So you could say, it all augers well for this burgeoning and relatively new company if they continue with this sort of enquiring dedication. Bravo Soul Bank! Another top-notch release.
Words Emrys Baird

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