BROTHER JACK McDUFF: Gin And Orange (Label: Dusty Groove)

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“Brother” Jack McDuff, who died in 2001, was one of the great mid-60s soul-jazz organists. Alongside people like Jimmy Smith and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes, McDuff consistently managed to tease soulful sounds from the unwieldy Hammond organ and in doing so helped define a genre which left a much-loved legacy. A small part of that legacy is open to investigation on this remarkably faithful reissue of the organ grinder’s 1969 Cadet album ‘Gin And Orange’. I say “remarkably faithful” ‘cos the Dusty Groove people have kept the original art work, sleeve notes, running order and printed the CD itself with the lovely old pale blue Cadet livery. What’s more – despite the demands of modern audiophiles – the Dusty Groovers have retained producer Lew Futerman’s original idiosyncratic mixing. He was a dabbler and here he plays around with the left channel – fading it in and out randomly, while his editing is sometimes surprisingly sharp. That said, it all adds to the authentic 60s jazz club feel that the music itself conjures up. Indeed half of the tracks were cut live in Chicago’s London House nightclub and they really do evoke jazz cellar flavours. They’re sparse and funky while the studio cuts – featuring people like Phil Upchurch and Cash McCall in the line-up – have a more sophisticated air about them. Best cut on offer is a swinging ‘Beep-Bo-Bo’. On paper, at any rate, the tune is a McDuff original – but it’s almost, note for note, King Curtis’ ‘Soul Serenade’. Back in the day, I guess, copyright lawyers were an unknown breed. Had they existed then maybe they’d have questioned the inclusion of the ‘Soulful Strut’ brass riff on the oddly-named ‘Electric Surfboard’ too… but all this tune-spotting only adds to the enjoyment of what is a great example of late-60s soul-jazz. It’s not McDuff’s best album by any means, but it’s a lovely little artefact.
(BB) 3/5