Monday, 18 August 2008

Jimmy McGriff - The Mean Machine

74.6 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Groove Merchant GM-3311

Jimmy McGriff - Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, Synthesizer
Joe Thomas - Saxophone [Tenor], Flute
Cornell Dupree – Guitar
Lance Quinn – Guitar
Jerry Friedman – Guitar
Bob Babbitt – Bass
Jimmy Maelen – Percussion
Rick Marotta – Drums
Jerry Marotta – Drums
Pat Rebillot – Keyboards
Carlos Martin – Congas
Lew Delgatto - Saxophone [Baritone]
Alan Rubin – Trumpet
John Frosk – Trumpet
Tom Malone – Trombone

Viola - Julien Barber, Richard Maximoff
Violin - Alvin Rogers, Fred Buldrini, Harold Kohan, John Pintaville, Leo Kahn, Norman Carr, Rick Santhomme, Tony Posk
Cello - Jesse Levy, Richard Locker

Producer - Sonny Lester

1 It Feels So Nice (Do It Again)
2 The Mean Machine
3 Please Don't Take Me Out
4 Get Back
5 Overweight Shark Bait
6 Pogo's Stick

Doug Payne's review:

Between 1976 and 1979, Jimmy McGriff was often featured in the disco-style productions of Groove Merchant house arranger Brad Baker. The records usually surrounded the great organist with a huge army of studio musicians, big horn sections, string parts and often heard McGriff playing keyboards other than organ. THE MEAN MACHINE, from 1976, was the first of these productions and McGriff doesn't even play organ here. The six tunes, none by McGriff, make for a kind of anonymous, but better than average funky dance music typical for the time. When Baker's horn or string charts aren't carrying the melodies, reedman Joe Thomas does a good job filling in on tenor sax or flute. McGriff never really sounds distinctive - or out front - on the Fender Rhodes, synthesizer or clavinets he plays here. But if this kind of music is your bag, it's really quite well done (sample the dancefloor hit "It Feels So Nice" to hear). Four of the six tracks here were included on the 1994 RED BEANS CD. Another, "Pogo's Stick" (perhaps McGriff's best feature here) is also on the DIG ON IT McGriff CD compilation.

AMG Review by Jason Ankeny

Ironically enough, The Mean Machine captures Jimmy McGriff at his sweetest--employing electric piano as much as his signature organ, its grooves are disappointingly tepid, favoring a CTI-inspired smooth jazz approach at odds with McGriff's essential funkiness. Brad Baker's lush arrangements are largely to blame here, evoking the sound but not the kinetic energy of blaxploitation cinema--Joe Thomas' lighter-than-air flute solos further smooth out the music's rougher edges. Worst of all, McGriff seems disengaged, doing little above and beyond going through the motions--of course, with material as corny as titles like "Pogo's Stick" and "Overweight Shark Bait" portend, it's tough to criticize him for checking out.

Classic snob review of a 70s jazzfunk LP. If you ask me, this is the strongest of Jimmy's "disco" albums (i.e., string arrangements by Brad Baker, no B-3 and more funk than blues or jazz), mostly due to the assistance of Joe Thomas and Cornell Dupree.

Brad Baker was the house arranger/conductor for Groove Merchant and LRC, so his name is attached to most of the output from those labels in the mid to late 70s. Notable efforts he helmed during the period were Reuben Wilson's Got To Get Your Own, O' Donel Levy's Windows and Jimmy Ponder's All Things Are Beautiful (thank heavens for My Jazz World!). His only "solo" LP under the moniker B. Baker Chocolate Co. featured McGriff, Lonnie Smith, Jimmy Ponder and Groove Merchant regulars Pat Rebillot, Lew Delgatto, Jimmy Maelen and ex-Funk Brother Bob Babbitt.

Cornell Dupree should need no introduction as he's been credited on over 2,500 sessions since starting with King Curtis in the early 60s. Even if you don't know who he is, you've heard him more than you would think. In fact, some of your favourite licks likely came from him whether you know it or not.

Joe Thomas was an under-appreciated horn and flute player. He definitely brought the funk during the 70s and I highly recommend looking into his solo discography if you haven't already done so (all courtesy of 4 Brothers Beats unless otherwise noted):

1970 Comin' Home

1972 Is The Ebony Godfather
1974 Moog Fluting
1974 Joy Of Cookin'
1975 Masada (arranged by B Baker)
1976 Feelin's From Within (arranged by B Baker)
1977 Here I Come
1978 Get In The Wind at My Jazz World
1979 Make Your Move
(arranged by B Baker)
1980 Flash (couldn't find anywhere in blogopolis but just went for $1.99 on eBay last week)

Apparently this was reissued in the past few weeks on Pid and AMG shows it as being released last year by LRC but it doesn't seem to be available at most of the regular outlets. Until you're able to get your hands on a hard copy you can get it from Soundological HERE or HERE.

Tomorrow we'll be following up this post with Red Beans, so hang tight. While you're waiting, here's a look at
J. McG's Groove Merchant / LRC output from the 70s:

1971 Good Things Don't Happen Every Day at My Favourite Sound

1971 Groove Grease at Album Base & Oufar Khan

1972 Let's Stay Together at BeeQ

1972 Fly Dude at headfonehaus

1972 Friday the 13th: Cook County Jail (live)

1972 Flyin' Time (2LP combines Fly Dude and Let's Stay Together) at My Favourite Sound

1973 Giants of the Organ Come Together

1973 If You're Ready, Come Go With Me at My Favourite Sound

1973 Giants of the Organ in Concert (live) at I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby

1973 Supa Cookin' (2 LPs combine both "Giants" titles) at My Favourite Sound

1974 Main Squeeze at My Favourite Sound

1975 Stump Juice at Roots For Everyone

1976 The Mean Machine at Soundological

1976 Red Beans at Soundological

1977 Tailgunner at My Jazz World

1978 Outside Looking In at My Jazz World


Anonymous said...

Few improvisational music critics lke the 70s funk phase more than 3 outta 4 jazz cats went thru.McGriff is no diffrent, your research is insightful.Thanx 4 keepin it funky!( and puttin me on to Joe Thomas!)

E-mile said...

aarhg, dem snob-reviews :-)
missed this one somehow, thanks for
fillin in (yet another) blank...
peace, E-mile

cheeba said...

Thanks, chronwell. Hope you enjoy the JT!

E-mile, it's ironic you should make the next post since the other day, when I ran a google blog search for "joe thomas" flute the mix you had just recommended to me came up as the top hit!

avocado kid said...

wow, Jimmy McG is one fly (and funky) dude.

el goog said...

Hi cheeba

Your posts concerning McG is very wonderful.
Thank you so much.

And there is a link added here.
Giants Of The Organ In Concert - Jimmy McGriff & Richard Groove Holmes

keep it up!
el goog

cheeba said...

Hi El Goog!

Thanks very much for your encouraging words and the link is greatly appreciated as well! I'll update the post too.


many thanks for these McGriff gems!

adam said...

thank you so much for sharing.
anyone notice one of the songs on stump juice sounds like a tune on henry franklin's black jazz album the skipper, of all albums?

Simon666 said...

Digging way back here and loving this album, thanks Cheeba!

soti said...

Hi cheeba, thanks for sharing the music with us and keep it up. Top work !!! MANY THANKS, soti.