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Hank Marr - Hank & Frank


Hank Marr - Hammond B-3 Organ
Frank Foster - Tenor Sax
Cal Collins - Guitar

Jim Rupp - Drums

1. B Jam Shuffle (5:25) Marr
2. Kathern The Great (6:13) Foster
3. Your Basic Gospel Tune (6:47) Marr
4. Basie-cally Speaking (4:43) Marr
5. I'm Saving All My Sweet Hugs 4U (6:24) Marr
6. Paris In April (5:24) Marr
7. Just A Closer Walk With Thee (8:38)
8. If I Had You (3:38) Shapiro, Campbell, Connelly
9. The Very Thought Of You (6:38) Ray Noble
10. Stolen Sweets (4:17) Marr
11. Rhythmesque (4:53) Marr
Total Time 63:06

Listen to CD Tracks

     It’s great to hear the real thing again. Since the early nineties, the Hammond organ has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance with numerous pianists and keyboard players jumping over to the old warhorse to see if they can capture some of its magic. Unfortunately, for most of them, their attempts don’t even light candles to the brilliant and masterful techniques displayed by original players like Hank Marr. Hank is a Real Jazz Organist who knows his registrations and how to integrate the left hand finger-bass with the footpedals. He understands how to use his Leslie Tone Cabinet and elicit from his Hammond B-3 the most authentic jazz sounds... those standardized by Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith. Hank was around in the beginning of the organ combo revolution; during its heyday; and now, once again, for its revival. Hank Marr is simply one of the finest Jazz Organists in the world today and legendary saxophonist, Frank Foster would agree.

    Frank Foster has always wanted to record with an Organ Combo and this opportunity to do just that with Hank Marr was well received... but before we congratulate Frank on this maiden voyage, let’s acknowledge his association with one of the founding fathers of Jazz Organ... his former boss, William ‘Count’ Basie, to whom this recorded music is dedicated. It was Count Basie who took informal lessons from Fats Waller and occasionally played Jazz Organ with his Big Band. “Oh yes”, recalls Frank, “I had forgotten... One time we recorded an album called ‘The Kansas City Seven’... That was my very first experience with the organ... but I didn’t get to perform on the same scale as with Hank.” That scale which Frank refers to may imply the diversification which Hank brings to the console. While Count Basie was a master of dynamics on the organ and carried on the Fats Waller style that evolved from the stride pianists, Hank represents the modern Jazz Organist who turned the Hammond B-3 into a soloing instrument... able to create orchestral sounds and instrumental nuances that can thrill a soloist like Frank Foster. As Frank says, “Hank sounds like what a Jazz Organist should sound like... he does all the right things and pushes all the right buttons.”

    Jamey D. Aebersold from Double-Time Records asked Hank how this musical union first came about in a December 15, 1997 interview:
    Hank: “I happened to have heard Frank play with the jazz ensemble at Ohio State University a year or so ago. I just approached him and spoke with him about his performance and arrangements... and asked him if he had ever recorded with an organ group. He said, ‘no’, and when I asked him if he would be interested in doing so, he said, ‘sure’.... Hopefully, we would do something with a Basie-flavor. Who better to have than the person who directed that band for about ten years after Count Basie’s death. Of course Frank could lend some authenticity to this and help us capture the right feel and beat. I started putting together some tunes that influenced me and gave me inspiration.”

    Frank later relayed these comments to me:
    “I had been wanting to do something like this with an organ for a long time, especially after hearing Percy France and Bill Doggett... and Hank finally gave me the opportunity... and I just loved it.” Hank Marr knows all too well the sounds of Percy and Bill as he picked up the baton from Bill Doggett in 1961 and began his own illustrious career on King Records.

    Jamey rekindles the early days by asking Hank this:  “What makes your organ playing so special and enjoyable to listen to?”:
    Hank: “Years ago when I first heard Jimmy Smith play the organ, I remembered this great B-3 organ sound and how it struck me. I knew I was going to have to play the instrument... but it was several years and a lot of trial and error before I even got my first organ or knew anything about capturing the sound. I had been listening to my friend, Jimmy Smith, and like a lot of organ players, I copied the solos. We listened and played a lot of his solos and licks note-for-note. I decided I needed to go in another direction for my own identify. Therefore, I sort of leaned towards the Wild Bill Davis side and tried to use the organ as a Big Band and as a solo instrument as well... because the instrument is capable of it. It’s possible to go from a whisper to a scream in a second. You can get all this punch and drive like a Big Band when the brass comes in. I’ve tried to add patches of different sounds, different colors and different backgrounds throughout, so everything doesn’t take on a sameness.”

    Jamey: “Your bass sound is very distinct and can be heard very well compared to some other organists...”
    Hank: “That’s because of a technique that I got from Jimmy. We all use to be in contests and we would put lights on the pedals and everybody tried to showcase their feet. The footwork became the focus and the bass line sort of suffered. You simple can not get a real nice baseline from the foot pedals alone. For modern Jazz Organists, it’s a combination of playing the bassline and the setting... or tapping the pedal at the same time that you play notes with the left hand. It gives you a heavier ‘grunt’ sound... plus it gives you the legato sound as opposed to that bumpy, jerky sound when you just play the pedal... unless you electronically hook it up to a bass machine like Barbara Dennerlein and some of the others do.”

    For this session Hank and Frank chose eleven tunes, some of which are direct nods to the Count. Frank’s voice carves through this music like a sculpting tool in moistened clay. He creates a new and exciting form within a format he admits is new. His solos are propelling yet descriptive and seem to be matched lyrically with Hank’s organ concept. Guitarist Cal Collins sparkles through every track. His solos are conversational while his comping draws Freddie Green’s work to mind. Cal’s confidence is evident in his delicate phrasing and gentle groove that cascades downward or twirls in perfect response to the others. Drummer Jim Rupp has been with Hank on many occasions and understands the dynamics under which he must work. Listening to organ bass requires a sophisticated ear which Jim definitely has. He shifts his rhythms magnificently while firmly planting his feet in organ-turf.

Hank enjoys giving each of these pieces a personal synopsis... It’s the Professor in him that must come out!

B Jam Shuffle
    “I had heard some shuffles played by Basie, and of course, some things Joe Williams use to sing... There were little ‘tinkles’ where less is better; less is more.
I tried to put the tempo in the pocket so that Frank and I could get a groove going. Essentially, I was just trying to give it a little Basie flavor with licks and cliches I remember from Basie’s recordings.” Listen for Hank’s subtle changes in registration as he and Frank romp through this in classic fashion.

Katherine The Great
    Hank and Cal approach this Frank Foster original with enthusiasm. Frank himself unleashes a more rollicking sound and later explains the origins of the tune with these words:  “Well, it’s a lady named Katherine Cox who is another Ohioan native; She’s from Dayton and now lives in New York. She’s just a big jazz fan and one of her strong points is being able to critique a jazz musician’s live performance... in other words, if you sound good, she’ll tell you... if you sound bad, she’ll tell you...
I thought it was a good tune for tenor and organ.”  We do, too, Frank... I’m sure Katherine will give you thumbs up on this!

Your Basic Gospel Tune
    “Actually, my inspiration for this was Horace Silver... I just figured we always need a little gospel tune.”  Hank wrote this ‘Preacher-like’ piece last year.  It offers Frank a slow and easy groove on which to testify and tell his sins or good deeds. Hank’s effortless manner in changing stops and creating new sounds is truly remarkable.

Basie-cally Speaking
    “This was really inspired by Count Basie... ‘Whirly Bird’ specifically. It’s an interlude type of thing where I do a little spanking thing at the end of the phrase... like the openings that were left for Basie but instead of Basie playing, we all do it. Also, there’s a little shout chorus on Jim’s solo.” The balance among the four players is outstanding with Frank delivering a comfortable and relaxed solo and Hank recreating Basie’s sound in an uncanny manner.

I’m Saving All My Sweet Hugs 4U
    “This was definitely inspired by Neal Hefti’s ‘Lil Darlin’ which Count Basie recorded. It’s a nice, slow tempo where couples can hold one another while dancing.” Cal makes this all believable with fine guitar work over a solid Basie-like foundation created by Hank. Hank’s nod to Erroll Garner toward the end is memorable. That’s what a Real Jazz Organist can do.

Paris In April
    This memorable twist on Wild Bill Davis’ contribution to the Basie book is simply great. Frank is lyrical and dynamic while Hank brings forth the sound created by Bill Davis himself.
“I just tried to capture the tempo and flavor and essence of ‘April in Paris’. I tried purposely to stay away from the melody being the same but in the last chord Frank does play the melody signature in the very last bar of the tune. It’s in the same key.”

Just A Closer Walk With Thee
    “On a couple of other recordings I had heard this sort of ‘talking organ’ sound. I can’t take credit for this because Jimmy Smith did this particular sound years ago. I’m sort of preaching or giving my sermon at the organ... I set up the organ with one sound on the upper manual and another sound on the lower manual to get that ‘call and response’ type of thing. I have the whole church shouting at the end.” Hank’s acknowledgment of Jimmy is sincere but he’s much too modest... He seems to hold the key to this marvelous style of organ playing. When you get a chance, check out his version of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ on ‘Groovin’ It!’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ on ‘It’s ‘bout Time’, both on Double-Time Records.

If I Had You
    This interpretation of an old standard features guitarist Cal Collins. His lush chords and delicate fingerings reveal his thoughtful approach to music and pure love for the groove. “Originally I had thought he would play it as a solo piece. He played the guitar in octaves, great chords... using lines that a lot of other guitarists don’t know anything about.” Cal’s nod to Freddie Green and other greats deserves special attention in the midst of this salute to Count Basie.

The Very Thought Of You
    “To get some balance in the session, we thought stylistically about a bossa nova for this melody that both Frank and I knew.”  Not only do they know this tune well but they’re able to interpret it with renewed spirit and marvelous mood swings which flow from the bell of Frank’s tenor and embrace the surrounding sounds.

Stolen Sweets
    “This is a tribute to Wild Bill Davis who wrote this composition. I always liked this tune so I tried to capture the true essence of how he played the organ. He used good harmonies and block chords... and knew how to use the organ as a powerful instrument.”  Frank and Hank are polished in their rendering of this classic. It bounces your foot right along with it.

    “There were a few rhythmic tunes Basie wrote that had tenor sax battles on them. I thought I would do a formal rhythm tune. It’s a be-bop type of thing with a little variation on the bridge.” This up tempo piece jumps from the tenor/organ intro through the tight ensemble work and out. Frank’s tenor sounds as if it’s been tenured in the organ combo.

    When Jamey asked Hank what he felt Count Basie would think of this recorded tribute, Hank said: “I think he’d be proud of Frank Foster... I know he’d dabbled around with the organ and I hope he’d appreciate the fact that he inspired me... Kids today don’t know what it means when songs say ‘Basie tinkles’ in open spaces.

    Pete Fallico - The Doodlin’ Lounge   March '98