Record of the Day: Brother Jack McDuff, "Tobacco Road"

Record of the Day: Brother Jack McDuff, “Tobacco Road”

Brother Jack McDuff
Tobacco Road/Do It Now! (Cd Collectibles COL-CD 6405)

Do you want to make your sweetheart happy on this day? Forget the now overused mimosas and give her this album, it will be a tribute to the multiplicity of her tastes. In fact, where else can you find “Blowin' in the Wind” and “The Shadow of Your Smile” together? Only a Maestro could convincingly bring together pieces like “Alexander's Ragtime Band” and “And
the Angels Sing” without creating an indigestible mayonnaise; in this album made for Atlantic, “Tobacco Road” (1967), organist Jack McDuff proves himself perfectly up to the task by tackling diametrically opposed themes to bring them together under the emblem of hottest soul/jazz.

McDuff's style is very simple; almost completely foreign to him are the full-throttle rides along the keyboard typical of Jimmy Smith or the sophisticated harmonic connections of Shirley Scott. McDuff is closer to figures like Don Patterson and Freddie Roach, closely linked to the blues, musicians who get to the point without getting lost in interpretative subtleties.

This CD (released in economical series) also collects another album recorded in the same year by McDuff, “Do It Now!”,
largely composed of the leader himself, although there is also a relaxed excursion into the territories of Marcos Valle's Summer Samba. Compared to “Tobacco Road” it is an even more gritty recording, where Ray Appleton's drums together with McDuff's pedals punctuate powerful rhythms on which the horn section of Leo Johnson and Danny Turner intervenes with always appropriate pungent arrangements, while Melvin Sparks' guitar adds a hint of cayenne pepper to the recipe.

Long gone are the years in which McDuff addressed a more jazz-based user base, here we are fully mainstream
which aims straight at the bank account and the charts, but this does not mean that the musical quality of the performances and the collective enthusiasm of the group are lacking; other than a trip to the florist, take a look on the Internet (this album cannot be found in Italy) and prepare a special occasion with the sound of groove, you will see what the result is.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.