Jimmy McGriff - "The Main Squeeze"
You can't go into this album expecting meaningfulness, compositional substance or depth of emotion. That's what Coltrane is for. Jimmy McGriff is strictly for easy vibes and a good time. He's in great form and playing excellently, as always. There is definitely a certain lack of meat and melody, not unusual for the mid 70's or McGriff; a now overlooked unique voice in jazz organ.
In all likelihood planning for the album happened on the cab ride to the studio, if not during the session. The first 3 tracks lack melody completely; the band jamming on grooves and riffs (Jimmy Smith's "The Sermon" not famous for it's head, made up of a repeated 2 bar phrase; the swing original "GMI" is similarly constructed). "The Blues Train to Georgia" simmers nice and slow, built off a pleasant if innocuous keyboard chord progression. Once you get past the primal screams that open the title cut you are treated to what McGriff did best in the late 60's and 70's - funky grooves with high engagement.Not without their hitches, the strongest cuts are the standards. "Misty" comes off the most professionally and swings with fine solos from all. McGriff is obviously elated to play their uptempo version of "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" but apparently nobody knew the bridge, so it's replaced with a much simpler chord progression. Either they ran out of tape or the performance fell apart, since it fades out early in the last head. It's nonetheless the album's highlight. The set closes with "Stella by Starlight", played well but McGriff seems uneasy,
uncharacteristically hugging the melody throughout his two (still killer) choruses.
The normally impressive guitarist Jimmy Ponder rarely wows here, he's just relentlessly very good throughout, particularly on "These Foolish Things". More engaged and the real surprise is tenor saxophonist Connie Lester (from New Jersey) who plays his back-side off; swinging hard with a good sound and plenty of ideas. Drummer Eddie Gladden is supportive and solid, he and McGriff are clearly comfortable together and provide ample groove throughout the album.
You won't be sorry you put this album on, nor will you be pondering the meaning of life while it spins. Boasting a fun mix of small club jazz and greasy funk - repeated listens (it's short enough) bring out the better qualities of this release.
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