Big John Patton: Let ‘Em Roll (1965) Blue Note/Liberty


Selection: Latona (Patton)



Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) John Patton (organ) Grant Green (guitar) Otis Finch (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 11, 1965

boogaloo_john_patton_album1John Patton led six albums for Blue Note and a further five in the Liberty /Transamerica years, small fare compared with the 30 titles Jimmy Smith racked up for Blue Note before defecting to Verve. Patton was a major figure in the funk and blues-rooted jazz style known as soul jazz,  dubbed here at LJC: The Tendancy Boogaloo.

Otis “Candy” Finch was a long-serving drummer with another soul/jazz organist,  Shirley Scott, so no stranger to Boogaloo. The chemistry between Patton and Grant Green is well established over a number of these Patton Blue Note records, but the unexpected ingredient here is Bobby Hutcherson, an uncommon pairing of Hammond B3 and vibraphone. How will it play out?  Let’s find out.

Following a few gentle hints from Tendancy Boogaloo readers (you know who you are), I was surprised to find I had never posted any Big John Patton soul-groove albums, none, of which there are several on the LJC shelves. They have not been getting much play-time of late, long overdue for a spin. To remedy that I have dusted off what should be one of the more interesting titles, in a seamless link back to the recent Bobby Hutcherson retrospective, BLP 4329 Let ‘Em Roll. The seamless double-segue is of course the chick broad  lady girl woman model in the op-art outfit on the cover of Byrd’s “Mustang!” No gender faux-pas here, I apologise for any offence.  (I got taken to task recently at a dinner party, by a lady  feminist who worked in publishing, for using using the “wrong” word. What’s ok now – a person of ovaries ?)
Any Jimmy Smith aficionados out there, I’ll  get my apology in first. Patton belongs in the Larry Young school of organ players, a solid groove but a collaborative player in a group enterprise rather than Jimmy Smith’s solo pyrotechnic key-stabbing B3 assault.  Patton cooks, vamps, comping with propulsion under Grant Green’s linear runs and figures, while Green comps happily beneath Patton’s excursions, whilst Hutcherson adds a layer of complexity which raises the bar above a simple soul outing. The vibes really do work in this setting and Bobby can really swing.
What The Critics Say:
AllMusic reviewer Thom Jurek writes Let ‘Em Rollis one of the least appreciated of Patton’s records“. The Tendancy Boogaloo over at Organissimo seem to disagree  “this is the album most consider Big John’s finest.” So there you have it, or it seems, not. Make up your mind, peoples! “Under-appreciated” is full victim mode, deserving of sympathy, “finest” is arguable and boasting, aggressor mode. If I took a middle position, “thought by some to be Patton’s most average recording” you upset everyone.  Who’d be a music critic?
Of the track selection, Latona, the groovers at Organissimo go into overdrive. I couldn’t have written this since I have no idea what an F#dorian is, you’d have guessed straight away, so I’ll let member Soul Stream (he’s a musician) choose the words and put them in the right order, while I mime:
“(Latona) is a modal Latin groover using F#dorian. This is one of the most incredible examples of John’s ability to juggle a difficult polyrhythmic bassline. The bassline itself seems like a simple 3 note figure, but when used against the rhythm…it is a bitch. Also, love how the melody is constructed around the scale but it doesn’t sound especially driven that way, very subtle and beautiful. Especially the two note phrases before they punch the chords. Super hip. John’s solo is so, so, so…JOHN. He’s really finding his voice on this album.”
“polyrhythmic”…”modal Latin groover”… “the whole shit just cooks”… fluent Boogaloo. On this occasion I’ll stick to the photography, which they don’t do as good at Organissimo.

Vinyl: BST 84239 NY/ Liberty , Van Gelder, no ear.

Liberty/All Disc pressing after the sale of Blue Note, Van Gelder metal. Has the 114 pin-etch commonly found on Liberty, whose meaning is unknown, and likely to stay that way. I’m not sure it has as much traction as the intriguing Blue Note 9M etching. It is also a much bigger number than 9, so the possibilities are more or less endless. As if anyone cared.



Collector’s Corner

LJC-Girlie-Cover-2Patton albums are much more readily found than many other Blue Notes, not as expensive, but still sought after by the Tendancy Boogaloo. I was of the Boogaloo persuasion myself  when I first started out as a BN collector, though nowadays less hipster, more hip-replacement.

The most Let ‘Em Roll has fetched at auction is $255, it averages $50 – $60, so no holy grail, not much investment growth potential, not one to provoke collector envy, or to show off  -shakes head in bewilderment, How Much? Crazy! (ups collection insurance valuation) The only reason to own it is to play it, and enjoy it. Simple, but is it enough for the “collector”?  Perhaps, the collector’s dark side needs more. Who invests in a Ming dynasty vase, and then puts flowers in it?

My copy of  has a few crackles I noticed. It would benefit from another run through the RCM but that’s been banished to the shed, too noisy for the house. The shed has an external power supply that can’t be hooked up in the rain, which is what the weather is now. So I aplogise for the rain, for the location of the RCM, the fact it’s very noisy, and a few crackles. It’s times like this you think that neat Audio Desk Systeme ultrasonic record cleaner might be a good investment. If only it weren’t so darned expensive. Strictly entre-nous, don’t let on to the Moth I’ve been flirting with the idea of a new cleaner. It’ll get very upset. It didn’t take too kindly to being despatched to the shed.

15 thoughts on “Big John Patton: Let ‘Em Roll (1965) Blue Note/Liberty

  1. “The Way I Feel” is the Patton to latch on to in my opinion. The tune “The Rock” is as heavy a groove as anybody deserves. I would avoid these organ Blue Notes like the plague when they were still around in record shop used bins. It felt good to be a snob at the time. I ended up with an original copy of “The Way I Feel” that was a little too beat up to sell (would not be today) so it went in my shop where I have an old changer and spin records that are already in rough shape but play well enough to have on while working. After hearing this one a few times I thought I’ll give this a good cleaning and bring it upstairs, see if it will play good enough to “listen” to. It does. I did buy some cheap CD’s of his others to check them out and think they are solid but not the knock you on your ass sounds of “The Way I Feel”.

    • I imagine that at GBP3,000.00 (nearly), it must be very good indeed — but even so…

      I think either the Moth (GBP500.00, I think) or the new Pro-Ject RCM (GBP300.00, I think) still represent fantastic value for the collector. My Moth is fifteen years old (I realised with a shock the other day) and every record I have ever owned since that time has been cleaned using it: several thousand records. And it is still as good as the day I bought it.

      The are noisy, as LJC correctly points out, but in my view certainly not noisy enough to be relegated to the shed! I use mine typically when my wife is out or I move it into the kitchen to use… And I use headphones as ear protectors when I use it because the noise does make my tinnitus worse…

      I normally clean up to half-a-dozen records at a time, I suppose — rarely more. If one were cleaning very large batches — say 30, 40, 50 at a time — I can see that something quieter would be a great attraction.

      But these are small prices to pay for a simple, well-made machine that really does transform grubby records. Even clean records are improved.

  2. Not really to my taste but it sounds bloody good, even over the Mac, even from a rip, even though the RCM is in the shed, even though it’s raining… Damn, it’s funky. I feel a three-martini lunch coming on… Pass me that pack of unfiltered Pall Malls and get the **** out of my La-Z-Boy recliner.

  3. ‘Latona’ is easily the jewel on this album, and one of the best recordings he did. ‘Jakey’ and ‘One Step Ahead’ are also great, the other tracks however are not in their league. I notice AllMusic gives this one a perfect rating of 5-stars, so I’m out of step here, which is nothing new. His next album “Got A Good Thing Goin'” is my pick, continuing the groovy chick theme with an action shot of a go-go dancing scenester on the cover.

  4. what word did you use? for most sensible people, anything reasonable works, but there are so many people out there who police very slight word infractions over actual problems all day. gets no one anywhere.

    but the music… i like these organ albums, and i am fascinated by their ability to play bass with their feet and piano with their hands simultaneously. how do they do it?

    i will be in london in january. i plan to check out a few locations for record shopping. perhaps a glass of wine for you and beer for me is in order, maybe even at the same time and place?

  5. I’m not sure if my adjoining neighbour is of the boogaloo tendancy, but you are right, you have to push those cones a bit for things to sound “right”. I have a friend who likes drum ‘n’ bass, and he’s not happy until the plaster is coming down from the ceiling, but then his home is stand-alone.

    Let’s just say I appreciated Hutcherson’s contribution much more second time around.

    Thanks for the links, worth following up.

  6. I’m wondering if you enjoyed giving ‘Let ‘Em Roll’ a spin and would hazard a guess that you did. I wonder how it sounded on your system, I am of the view that the Hammond benefits from being played at volume- so if you want to use your Moth, just stick an organ set on your turntable to mask the annoying background noise of the disc cleaner. Your neighbours may even thank you.
    The version of Hank Mobley’s ‘The Turnaround’ is a most enjoyable boogaloo. When I first bought this set I was very disappointed by ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ but I guess I can just about live with it.
    As a side track, the sleeve notes were penned by Phyl Garland, who was both the first black person and the first woman to hold tenure at Columbia University’s Graduate Journalism School. Her ‘The Sound of Soul’, an interesting book from 1969 is worth searching out and her obit can be found at:- She was undoubtedly a great woman who inspired many.

    • My copy of this album was Phyllis Garland’s personal copy — an “audition copy” stamped mono. Her records were auctioned off some years ago.

      • David, you must of bought the Let Em Roll from me. We bought her collection after she had passed away and it contained another “Rosetta Stone” Blue Note tidbit. She also had a Plastylite test pressing of “Blue John”, the unreleased John Patton session. There was some kind of groove distortion on the last track side 2 but I don’t know if it was there when she received it or if she played only that track over and over. I’ve played several of the unreleased titles and they played beautifully. Would love to know why after they were given a catalog number but never put into production.

        • I have a copy of Blue John on CD and I like it very much. Grant Green and George Braith play on it. Hot Sauce is also performed on George Braith ‘ s prestige 7474 ( which Green and Patton play on) but I like this version better. I agree, this one should have been released

        • I overdosed on Jimmy Smith and organ jazz a long, long time ago, and wanted nothing more to do with it — save for Let ‘Em Roll. I like the directness and relative simplicity of Patton’s playing. He and Green seriously barnstorm on a couple tracks, and the vibes take it somewhere else completely. I saw him play in the 90s at the Knitting Factory, in the basement for a dozen people. His wife was there — a most enthusiastic and loving woman.

        • Thanks for letting us know about Phyl Garland’s collection Woody. I expect that you had the pick of some amazing discs. Did it also include a copy of Blue Mitchell’s ‘Down With It!’, for which she also wrote the sleeve notes (along with Jackie McLean’s ‘Right Now!’ and Booker T and The MG’s ‘The Booker T Set’).
          I didn’t expect my comment to result in information about a test pressing of ‘Blue John’. I bet there were not many of them about (though I’ve owned the subsequent CD release since the mid 90’s).

          • I actually don’t remember keeping any record from her estate, it seemed as though a lot of titles were missing and condition overall was an issue. Being a “research” guy I really wanted to keep the test pressings for historical reasons but we had bid high and selling the better pieces was necessary.

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