Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jimmy McGriff (1936-2008)

Soul-jazz pioneer Jimmy McGriff, a master of the Hammond organ, died Saturday in a New Jersey nursing home. It took a few days for the word to spread to the mainstream press.

McGriff was 72. His prolific recording career stretched from the early 1960s to shortly after 9-11.

James Harrell McGriff was born and raised in Philadelphia, and even served as a Philly cop in the ’50s before devoting himself to the music.

There is a jazz-organ brotherhood that McGriff is smack in the middle of. He desired to learn the instrument after watching Richard “Groove” Holmes. McGriff took lessons from Holmes’s mentor – the great Jimmy Smith.

Eventually, McGriff inspired a young sax player named Charles Earland to switch over to the Hammond B3.

Click here to hear “The Worm,” which was a hit single for Jimmy McGriff 40 years ago.

Funeral services will be held next Tuesday at the Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia.


dj said...

I'm a sucker for B3.

Giants of The Organ Come Together,has been a stereo/turntable test LP for me for a while now.

It is set up as a Left vs. Right battle.

Get the list of players:

Jimmy McGriff, Organ
Richard "Groove"Holmes,Organ
O'Donel Levy,Guitar
George Freeman,Guitar
and flying straight up the middle,
Bernard"Pretty" Purdy,Drums & Kwasi Jayourba,Percussion

estiv said...

Man, they're all leaving...McGriff, Holmes, McDuff, Earland, Smith...

As the Wise One said, there's a time to live and a time to die. Makes me sad. Thank God for Joey DeFrancesco, but it's just not the same.

BTW, I had no idea until recently that Joey DeFrancesco's first "real" gig when he was seventeen years old and had to, by law, take his schoolbooks on the road with him, was when he was touring with Miles Davis! Played synths then, though, not the Monster.

cuz said...

I am sooooo into B3 too. Ohmagod. I knew there was a place in time and I just remembered, I was backstage with this guy. Really low maintenance, really laid back and then hit that organ.

The well is not dry. Benji Porecki is an under-the-radar B3 maniac. That's how I met Jimmy McGriff. Benji's from Baltimore. Used to play with Chuck Brown, Pieces of a Dream. He does gigs around DC, MD, VA. Check him out. His dad was a psychiatrist (I think) for the MD Dept. of Corrections.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Wow! I was just listening to Jimmy McGriff on my B3/Guitar Pandora station. Had no idea. The news about the passing of jazz giants often flies under the radar for a few days after their deaths. They'll hype somebody like Heath Ledger's death to no end.

Wouldn't mind checking out that Giants of Organ. That on cd?

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Also, very sad to hear he was in a nursing home. That's a damn shame an artistic giant is in a nursing home. No doubt the result of thievery recording contracts.

Undercover Black Man said...

Dr. Lonnie Smith is also out there doing it, y'all... at the top his form.

James said...

I remember The Worm, the album and the single. I've downloaded it recently. The whole thing is nice. Check out Blue Juice. Thanks for the music, Jimmy. You are part of the soundtrack of my youth.

intrepidideas said...

Nice tribute UBM.... To Deangelo's point, I read about McGriff's passing in a Hong Kong newspaper. I was surprised to catch it there because it was not your typical Heath Ledger tragedy but a tragic reality and answer to the not so glamorous question: Where do old jazz/blues musicians go? My parents used to play his cut "I gotta woman" to death. He will be missed!

estiv said...

Dr. Lonnie Smith is also out there doing it, y'all... at the top his form.

Damn, how could I forget Dr. Lonnie? Especially since I recently saw a performance of his on UBM-TV. The Real Thing.

Undercover Black Man said...

... I read about McGriff's passing in a Hong Kong newspaper.

That's pretty cool right there, interepid!

Our musicians are the envy of the world. And we don't show 'em enough love and appreciation here in the homeland.