Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sonny Phillips - Black on Black (Prestige, 1970)

Black on Black is a solid mellow mix of blues, ballads and rhythm and blues flavored jams heavy on the riffs and soul flourishes. Organist Phillips performs with Rusty Bryant on tenor saxophone, Melvin Sparks on guitar, Jimmy Lewis on bass, and Bernard Purdie on drums. Standout tracks include a nine-minute exploration of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary," not a song normally associated with jazz, but one that works well as an organ grinding feature for Phillips who bubbles happily along assisted by Bryant's rough-hewn tenor providing some more power. Grant Green's "Blues in Maude's Flat" is a fine feature for Melvin Sparks as can be expected, and he takes a couple of clean, smooth swinging solos with the underrated Bryant chipping in as well. "Black on Black" has a slinky bass groove with tenor saxophone accompaniment. Phillips grooves away while the bass, drums and saxophone set up a repetitive but enjoyable pocket before Bryant breaks free to peel off a deep R&B tinged solo. The unsung hero of this date however, is Jimmy Lewis who plays rock solid electric bass that locks in with Purdie's drums to propel the music forward. While there's nothing particularly new or progressive about this album, it is an enjoyable slice of groove based music and fans of the Hammond organ or of R&B influenced jazz with find this record worthwhile.

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