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CD Review



Reuben Wilson - Movin' On
Savant Records
        One of my favorite organists, Reuben Wilson, manages to re-emerge into the spotlight with one of the best albums of his career, the excellent Movin' On. The choice of title is inspired as Wilson has seemingly shed a lot of the organ cliches of his classic '60's work and decided to attack the B-3 with an inspired attitude that shows plenty of growth and relevance. Truly, Wilson has 'moved on' from his early years and is entering a new phase of his career fully rejuvenated and with a seeming endless supply of fresh ideas.
        Never the most prolific of artists, when Wilson does decide to do an album he has always managed to set the bar high and keep the quality up. Not that fans of B-3 organ grooves and jazz fans in general have always noticed. A relatively late-period signing to Blue Note when the label was mostly encouraging its' artists to explore the popular soul-jazz route, Wilson's five sessions for the label were pretty much ignored at their time of release.  After a subsquent three-album deal at Groove Merchant and an album with The Fatback Band, Wilson pretty much retired for the better part of twenty years. Thanks to the acid-jazz revival and a ton of beatheads looking for cool grooves to sample, Wilson's work steadily gained notice by word of mouth and his older albums on Blue Note suddenly became collector's items. It took roughly twenty years, but Wilson finally got the respect he desrves as being a master of the B-3 and he relishes his role as elder statesman of the groove-jazz era.
        It's a role jazz desperately needs him to play as he is one of the few surviving original artists of the sub-genre. Now 71, Wilson still manages to display a youthful vigor in his solos and his mood here is decidedly ebullient, as is the demeanor of his band. Featuring six-string wizard Grant Green Jr. (Green Jr,. is a fine, fine guitarist, as was his father, the immortal Grant Green Sr., but is the possessor of perhaps the most well-meaningly unfortunate names in the music business as far as being able to carve out his own identity. I mean, are you gonna expect anything innovative from James Brown Jr. or B.B. King Jr.?) and saxophonist Robert Chaseman as soloists along with Wilson, the group takes the standard organ trio (usually augmented by either guitar or sax but seldom both as this set boasts) premise and expands the sonic palette tremendously. While the premise of this album is to make great R&B-derived groove jazz it somehow becomes much more than that. Wilson cuts such a deep groove on this album it's a wonder he was able to climb out of it!
        Fans of R&B based groove jazz will love this album. While not groundbreaking by any means, it is a killer disc that will no doubt be great party music or music to get you grooving around the house. You can't not get into a great mood while listening to this. The grooves are infectious and the playing fantastic. Check out Reuben Wilson, the last great original master of the B-3! - Scott Homewood



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