August 2012 Issue of Keyboard Magazine Interview

on Hammond B3 Organ Technique and More!!! 

Ike Stubblefield

Road Warriors

on Page 20-21

A Great Night of Friends and Music at the Georgia Theater in Athens, Ga.

We Miss You Mikey

........The Clayton Brothers, Dianne Reeves, and an all-star Swing Central convocation—with Ted Nash, Slide Hampton, Terell Stafford, and Dave Stryker among the notables—still lay ahead on the SMF schedule, but the road beckoned. Enough time remained for a double-dose of Hammond B3 master Ike Stubblefield and his trio. For anyone unfamiliar with recordings in Stubblefield’s name, the discography is negligible, but he’s been hiding in plain view for over 40 years, backing up a long, long list of blues, rock, and Motown greats on keyboards—including The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, The Pointer Sisiters, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, and George Benson. Memories of Richard “Groove” Holmes were instantly evoked when Stubblefield launched into a rousing rendition of “Misty,” a hit for Holmes back in the ‘60s, to kick off his Noon 30 set at a brisk pace. So if the bulk of the résumé isn’t jazz, Stubblefield quickly and effortlessly proved he has the chops.

Nor was he the only powerhouse in the trio, for the lefthander on the stool slinging the bluesy guitar solos—with a funkier edge than his famed dad—was Grant Green, Jr. There was controlled combustion as he took up Stubblefield’s galloping “Misty” and the fullness of the composer’s approach in Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song,” before Green added some fatback of his own. Drummer Marcus Williams also had some tasty ideas here, aggressively backed by Stubblefield. Further evidence that the guitarist had some say about the playlist surfaced later on when Green introduced the line and surrounded Stubblefield’s fine mid-tempo work with two smoothly shuffling solos on Michel Legrand’s “Summer of ’42,” a tune memorably covered by Benson on his White Rabbit album. The best moments of this exceptionally winsome set came last as Green strung out a long, lovely Latin ballad intro for “Brazil” with Williams pouring on the percussive color. Stubblefield finally introduced the melody, kicking the tempo into high gear, giving way to another Green tirade over a Williams stampede. Williams had some generous solo space here as well, punctuating a Stubblefield fantasia. It was all about the leader—gushing a profusion of spicy ideas—from then on, signaling that the old campaigner was not to be upstaged.

Time-sharing with the Claytons as well as expanding to a quintet with two distinguished guests, Stubblefield wasn’t quite as engaged or rambunctious in the last set that same evening at the Morris. On the other hand, Green obviously relished trading licks with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and trumpeter Marcus Printup, and came out firing on all cylinders even before the brass players joined the trio on the bandstand. The quintet jelled most convincingly on the traditional “Deep River.” Stubblefield confined himself to the bridge as Grant laid out the line—and peeped in for a half-chorus on the B3 organ to finish out the guitarist’s third chorus, a scintillating response to the brass fireworks in between. In the blowing contest between the two guests, Gordon was more gimmickry than substance on his slide but still scored well with the crowd. Repeating his triumph at last year’s Swing Central showdown, Printup inspired with the soaring tone of his horn and dazzled with the fecundity of his fast-flowing phrases. It wasn’t quite as deep or majestic as his exploits last year on “Amazing Grace,” but it was pleasurably close.

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