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Freddie Roach: Down to Earth

Album Notes

Freddie Roach differentiated himself from the legions of soul-jazz organists on his debut album, Down to Earth. Many jazz organists played the instrument down and dirty, and while there's funk in Roach's playing, his style is ultimately lighter than many of his peers, with clean, concise solos and chords. His backing trio -- guitarist Kenny Burrell, tenor saxophonist Percy France, and drummer Clarence Johnston -- follows his lead, providing supple instrumental support that never loses sight of the groove. Furthermore, Burrell and France both have their chances to shine, contributing some nicely understated solos. Nevertheless, Down to Earth remains Roach's show; he wrote five of the six songs and his organ is at center stage on each number. The legato blues of "De Bug" is a terrific showcase for Roach's elegantly funky style, while the sprightlier "Ahm Miz" proves that he can get gritty if he so chooses. But the signature of Down to Earth is Roach's tasteful bluesy grooves, which prove to be just as entertaining as the hotter styles of his Blue Note peers Jimmy Smith and John Patton. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine



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