Selection: When Malindy Sings
Freddie Roach (organ) Eddie Wright (guitar) Clarence Johnston (drums) recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 29, 1963 add Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) December 9, 1963
Some time since we took a plunge into in the soul jazz pool, so prompted by LJC reader Kev’s suggestion, here we go, last one in’s a sissy.
Freddie played the Hammond B3 organ in the 60’s golden age of soul jazz organ. Comparison with Jimmy Smith is inevitable, being such a dominant force in this style of jazz. So when the needle bit the groove, there was a sense of relief this was not going to be another death-by-Hammond bravura performance. Eschewing the relentless attack of too much of Jimmy Smith, Roach cooks with a blues and gospel swing, building up a laid-back groove with plenty of space to stretch out. He is quite capable of stabbing the Hammond keys at the right time and place, but the addition of brass to the ensemble on three tracks adds welcome texture and interest, with Hank Mobley in particular a real highlight, picking up on the soulful groove in his solos. More Mobley is always good news, and Mitchell swings happily too.
Somewhere on my shelves are a number of Big John Patton albums that stylistically fill the same musical space. Whilst undeniably easy on the ear, there is perhaps a sameness of sound of many soul-jazz organ records, which I put down partly to the organ-trio format, and partly the substitution of bass with the Hammond pedals. This Roach outing, like some early Smith, manages to rise above the simple organ, guitar and drums formula, and offers some tasteful listening that went well with the lights down and glass in hand. I am glad I was prompted to take it for another spin, especially as I had forgotten about the Mobley tracks. Hat tip, Kev.
Roach recorded four other titles for Blue Note, compared with ten by Big John Patton (and no less than twenty-seven titles from Jimmy Smith, which probably accounts for collector fatigue).
Freddie Roach BLP 4113, 4128, 4168 and 4190:
As with Mobley on Good Move, collaboration with Joe Henderson marks out the Brown Sugar title, and tenor player Conrad Lester on the other titles, some of which also feature Kenny Burrell on guitar. All these added ingredients to my mind make Freddie’s records stand out from the crowded field of soul jazz organ.
LJC Poll: Jazz Heroes of the Hammond
Time for a quick poll, I think, about your Jazz Heroes of the Hammond. Here’s two dozen I could think of off the top of my head. Heros includes heroines. I’ve drawn a line in the sand between jazz organists and the rock pop soul R&B gang, though no doubt some will differ about who belongs where, and the “Sacrilege! You’ve left out Little Shorty Peawinkle!” crowd will have something to grumble about. Tough. It’s not my specialist subject, give’s a break.
I’m going to make it easy this time – you get five choices. Be sure to cast your five votes in the one session, no second chances. Vote now. (And don’t forget to give one of your votes to Larry Young. Not that I’m trying to influence you in any way)
What ever happened to Freddie Roach?
After several titles for Prestige in 1966-7, Roach musically disappeared, it is said having moved to France, after which he was not heard from again. Or so wiki states and everyone repeats.(You have to be careful with the internet, often it’s just one voice in an echo chamber)
I’ll let blogger DownWithIt (our Kev) pick up the story:
The few short biographies that I have seen tend to end along the lines of ‘…he moved to France, after which he was not heard from again.’ A little bit more digging discloses that he spent a few years in Paris and Bob Blumenthal’s notes written when taking ‘a new look at Ike Quebec’s Heavy Soul session for the RVG Edition records the year of his death as 1980. The notes to So Blue so Funky, a Blue Note Hammond organ compilation album released in 1991, even state that Freddie enjoyed a second career as a movie actor….
I can add nothing other than to add France is a good as any place to disappear, in fact, better than most. Good move, indeed. If you know anything of Freddie Roach’s whereabouts, we are all ears. I expect he is owed a rather large royalty cheque.
Vinyl: BST 84518 – NY labels but no ear i.e. early Liberty press – VAN GELDER Stereo master
Source: Ebay (October 2010) Described as “Blue Note New York” the seller of course didn’t mention the absence of the ear.
Always surprisingly the premium for top condition: Near Mint/ “looks unplayed” Review Copy has the high-end collectors salivating. Of course those are with ear, unlike my humble Liberty press, but even so, the competition as I recall was pushed up due to the mere mention of Hank Mobley.
I’m quite happy with my Liberty/Blue Note with New York labels, no upgrade required. The difference between a 1964 Blue Note and these early Liberty 1966-7 pressings is negligible, especially where both are derived from a source Van Gelder Stereo master. End of the day, that’s what counts.