Jazz-Soul Groove Part 2

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The disc kicking off part 2 is on UK Sue 313 / US Sue 795, ‘So Far Away`’, one of my all-time favourites from Henry ‘HANK’ JACOBS, who amazingly did not even contemplate sitting in front of a piano until he was seventeen. Oozing talent, Kent Harris who had fronted Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew soon recruited Hank to gig with him as a duet traveling all over the States and co-wrote ‘Sting Ray’ with him for Hank’s first release appearing on Imperial.

While touring the pair stopped off in NYC and signed for Juggy Murray’s Sue label which resulted in Harris and Jacobs penning my featured side, which debuted on the R&B charts in January ’64. The original track had a piano lead but Jacobs later over-dubbed a Hammond B3, but even with this enhancement the track is effectively a two instrument affair, a B3 and a cymbal.

A couple more 45s followed but didn’t match up to ‘So Far Away’ but while at Sue he contributed to other artists sessions including piano on the Ikettes’ ‘I’m So Thankful’ and independent of Sue he played piano on Bettye Swann’s ‘Make Me Yours’.

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After NYC he began jamming and recording with the obscure T-K-O’s with his name featuring on the label of their second 45, ‘The Charge’ on Ten Star #105, an amazing, powerful record if ever there was one, discovered by Simon Soussan. The group had three releases, the first of which ‘The Fat Man’ began making noises around LA in March ’66 culminating in reaching #18 in the Billboard R&B charts a month later. His final destination was the Call Me label where he recorded three 45s including ‘Elijah Rockin’ With Soul’ a track that was so popular on the Northern Soul scene that it was bootlegged to meet demand but in my opinion was his worst.

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Next up, BROTHER JACK McDUFF, ‘Down In The Valley’ UK Atlantic 584036 / US Atl 5069, Brother Jack has a far more jazz-based background than the artists featured so far – born Eugene McDuff, January 1926 in Champaign Illinois. His first instrument was bass with Danny Zeitlin and Joe Farrell, evolving into keyboards with Willis Jackson in the late 50s where he began to work with Prestige Records. By the start of the 60s he specialised in playing the Hammond B3 and he formed his own band which featured a young George Benson as guitarist and Red Holloway on saxophone.

Still doing session work at Prestige with Jimmy Forrest, he soon released his first LP, Brother Jack in 1960, the first of an unbelievable twenty six albums for the label. He then went on to exceed that number under other logos such as Cadet and Blue Note. As far as Britain is concerned his output of vinyl reflected that of the USA with fifteen LPs and four 45s on Stateside, Atlantic, Transatlantic, Blue Note, York and Prestige.

Brother Jack quickly cultivated a dual following when his first releases appeared in Britain in 1964. Due to his prolific output in the States many UK jazz fans were already familiar with his style despite private importation of records at the time being virtually unheard of. The other ban of fans were the Mods who craved this laid back jazzy – R&B style that was more palatable than some of the more avant garde, Blue Note offerings that were difficult to dance to but being seen toting a couple of such albums around Soho was far more the point.