Tuesday , December 6 2022

Richard “Groove” Holmes: Super Soul

This is a reissue of organist Richard “Groove” Holmes’s 1967 LPs Super Soul and Soul Power!, complete with the original liner notes. Probably best known for his hit version of “Misty,” Holmes was clearly in his soul-jazz fusion prime when he made these recordings. His combination of groove (he was lefthanded, and a bass player too) with great technical mastery made him unique among jazz organists. The Super Soul LP also prominently features the great horn arrangements of Richard Evans.

Though Holmes’s genius is never in doubt, and the tracks have been expertly remastered, the arrangements often sound a bit dated in a way contemporary recordings by the likes of Miles Davis (or Jimmy Smith for that matter) likely never will. The song choices certainly reflect the times. The rhythm and blues classic “Function at the Junction” and Holmes’s own blues jams sound pretty fresh, and the jazz standards “Green Dolphin Street” and “The Preacher” swing like there’s no tomorrow. But “Ain’t That Peculiar” and the Bacharach-David tune “In Between the Heartaches,” enjoyable though they are, sound a little hokey to the 21st-century ear.

My own sentimental favorite is the Basie-like swing of “I Will Wait for You.” On the other hand I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anything simultaneously so cookin’ and so ethereal as Holmes’s extended solo on “(Back Home Again In) Indiana,” definitely the most exciting track on the session from a purely jazz standpoint. And from the Soul Power! LP, which drops the horn section, Holmes and his combo (including the great Jimmy Lewis on bass) cook up charming, supercooled versions of the pop hits “How Can I Be Sure?” and “Sunny.”

Holmes is at his most soulful in the relaxed “Since I Fell For You.” The organ lines are like a warm cloud floating through your ears, with guitarist Wally Richardson picking right up where Holmes’s solo leaves off.

For anyone interested in how soul came into jazz, or in jazz organ, or in “Groove” Holmes himself, this release will be a great introduction, and if you dig this particular kind of cool, it’s a must-have.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases in various genres. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.

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