Jimmy McGriff, organista de excepção que marcou o lado mais "groovy" do jazz, faleceu no passado dia 24. Fica aqui a homenagem HdB a mais este mestre do balanço. Como quase sempre faço, iniciei a pesquisa de Jimmy McGriff no disco duro do meu próprio computador, procurando saber se tinha por acaso escrito sobre algum dos seus álbuns. Curiosamente, os ficheiros que responderam aos parâmetros da minha procura são aqueles onde tenho listados os breaks da minha colecção (há breaks nos álbuns "Groove Grease" e "Electric Funk"), o que já diz muito da natureza da música deste senhor que neste momento deve estar a trocar impressões com Jimmy Smith sobre como tocar Hammond em cima de uma nuvem... Paz à sua alma.
"They've always classified me as a Jazz organist which I am not," states Jimmy McGriff. "I'm more of a Blues player. That's what I really feel."
With innumerable Top Ten albums to his credit, there is no mistaking McGriff's status as a legend. A master of the Hammond B-3, his renditions of Jazz and Blues classics along with his own compositions like "All About My Girl", "Kiko", "Vicki" and "Granny’s Lane", have made him a Blues original.
James Harrell McGriff was born in Philadelphia, a city known for its world-class Jazz musicians - particularly its organists. He was surrounded by music while he was growing up: his mother and father both played piano while cousins Benny Golson and Harold Melvin were beginning to work on their own musical paths.
Jimmy started out playing acoustic bass and alto sax. By the time he had finished high school, he was playing drums, vibes and piano, as well! At that point in his life, the bass seemed to be holding his interest and Big Maybelle gave him his first steady job working with her at Philly's famous Pep's Showboat.
The influence of neighbor Richard "Groove" Holmes was dynamic though, and he studied privately with him. Jimmy also studied organ at Philadelphia's Combe College of Music and at Julliard. In addition, he studied privately not only with "Groove", but with Milt Buckner and with classical organist Sonny Gatewood.
An A&R rep for Sue Records heard Jimmy playing organ at a small club in Trenton, NJ, offered him a contract and Jimmy was on his way to becoming an international favorite.
Jimmy's arrangement of "I Got A Woman", on the Sue label, made it to the top five on both Billboard's R&B and Pop charts ... and the hits have kept coming year after year.
There are close to 100 albums with Jimmy McGriff's name at the top as leader. He has recorded for Sue, Solid State, United Artists, Blue Note, Groove Merchant and recently for Milestone, Headfirst and Telarc.
In his prolific career, Jimmy has recorded with George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, JJ Johnson and even a two-organ jam affair with the late "Groove" Holmes.
Jimmy McGriff has performed in concert with Count Basie, Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Lou Donaldson, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band. He also toured and recorded with the great Buddy Rich for two years in the mid 70's.
Jimmy's television credits include programs with Nancy Wilson, the PBS favorite, "Club Date", and some fun with Paul Shaffer on Late Night with David Letterman.
Currently Jimmy performs around the world with his own Quartet, carving his own distinctive organ niche. Incorporating traditional gospel with a spiritual feel, he often teams up with musical buddy Hank Crawford in concert and on records.
Jimmy McGriff has received numerous awards over the years. Whether these accolades refer to him as a Blues master or a Jazz legend, McGriff fans will tell you that he just reaches for your heart and soul with his music and always comes up with a "feel-good" gettin' down sound!