Jazz CD Reviews

Jack McDuff – The Honeydripper – Prestige

An All Star Cast in a Pristine RVG Remaster

Published on September 7, 2006

Jack McDuff – The Honeydripper – Prestige
Jack McDuff – The Honeydripper – Prestige PRCD 30035-2, 1961,  37:33 ****:

(Artists: Jack McDuff, Hammond B-3 organ; Jimmy Forrest, tenor sax; Grant Green, guitar; Ben Dixon, drums)

As part of Concord Record’s recent effort to put out their own versions of Rudy Van Gelder Prestige recording sessions in remastered sound in a series of collectable value, they have made a wise decision in remastering Jack McDuff’s 1961 Hammond B-3 classic, The Honeydripper. Remastered in glorious 24 bit resolution using the analog master tapes, the sonic quality that Van Gelder has produced in his studio is remarkable. The sound is clear and not overly bright.

Reissuing this title was an easy decision as it features the recording debut of Grant Green on guitar. Green went on to establish himself as a superstar for Blue Note records, both as a leader and sideman, with most all of his work recorded by Van Gelder as well. His rapport with band leader McDuff here is strong, which is important as band mate Jimmy Forrest could easily have dominated the proceedings. This is due to the fact that Forrest, an Ellington alum, has a deep dominating tone on tenor. Green’s solo on the title cut was an early indication of his craft already fully developed and ready for a career of his own.

Forrest does have his features on this recording and he more than holds his own on both The Honeydripper cut and on the ballad setting of I Want A Little Girl, in which McDuff’s Hammond just drips grease.

Blues tunes are prominent on this CD in selections like Dink’s Blues in which Forrest’s Rhythm and Blues background is evident, and Blues and Tonic, in which McDuff and Forrest trade blues licks. The influence of Jimmy Smith, who had become THE dominant Hammond B-3 player by this recording date, can be seen in the soul jazz arrangments on this CD.

By the time this was recorded in 1961, McDuff had already recorded four sessions for Prestige. In the next three years, he would record 15 more albums and had by then fully taken on the moniker of “Brother” Jack McDuff. For fans of soul jazz and Hammond B-3 organ, this CD is a great place to begin their exposure to this superstar B-3 organist. The RVG remastered sound is just a nice bonus.

Songs: Whap!, I Want a Little Girl, The Honeydripper, Dink’s Blues, Mr. Lucky, Blues and Tonic.

- Jeff Krow




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