Monday, May 26, 2008

Jimmy McGriff and Sociobiology

Death of a Fatback Groover
I just read on a Canadian jazz Website that Jimmy McGriff just kicked the bucket. Jimmy was one of the original "groovin'" organists who galloped along from out of Philly in the late fifties, along with Jimmy Smith (also from Philly), Richard "Groove" Holmes, John Patterson, Brother Jack McDuff--and Jimmy McGriff was really the chuggin'-swinging-est of the fatback groovers, when pumped up high and mighty on top of his B-3 with the Leslies going full fan, you couldn't chase Jimmy McGriff with a jet plane. Yeah, they were all blues players--Jimmy Smith, of course, took the organ over into pop land--especially with his "Walk on the Wild Side," from the movie of the same name, from the book of the same name written by Nelson Algren, featuring Dove Linkhorn a jack of all trades who ends up working in a New Orleans whorehouse as a "cherrybuster," a male who is given virgin daughters to break in by prominent fathers--a profession that becomes so degrading to old Dove, he starts drinkin' heavily and eventually tragically falls in love with the highest paid whore in New Orleans. Nelson Algren--not forgotten really, but almost, I'll bet. Walk on the Wild Side is a damn good book, by the bye--all about Nelson's time spent in southern Texas, on La Frontera, driftin' around lookin' for fame and glory.
Jimmy McGriff 1936-2008

I go on jazz sites and I know there's lots of jazz still being played out there, all around, in L.A., Canada, NYC, and I see a lot of names I recognize, like Joe Lovano, Scott Hamilton, Mike Stern, Ravi Coltrane--and a lot of guys with Latin names are playing jazz--but, I'm not familiar really with any of these people's work and I've totally lost track of what's now called mainstream jazz and have a feeling young up-and-coming musicians are mainly copycats--still trying to play faster than Bird or Bud or Dizzy or supercooler than Miles--and, yes, there are some slick babes out there wailin' jazz, especially some damn good-lookin' hot chicks who play jazz piano and sing jazz--I know these kids are slicker and more well-educated than any musician I ever admired and in whose footsteps I tried to follow but still...--like Parker learned to play jazz right straight out of his head--he didn't play "by ear"--well-musically-educated white musicians love to put down what they call "playing by ear"--New Orleans early white jazz guys called 'em "fakers"--Parker didn't play by ear--he played by feelings, by the urges he had coming from within, from his solar plexus, the seat of what we call "the soul," according to me and D.H. Lawrence--fuck the mind, D.H. said, that's Freud's toy, give me the source of all hunger, sexuality, and all the associative emotions and butterflies and pangs and tempers and the unflaring of music as well, the music you are born into (I think like a behaviorist still--I'm not yet up on Sociobiology yet--here let me let the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy tell ya about it:

The term ‘sociobiology’ was introduced in E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975) as the application of evolutionary theory to social behavior. Sociobiologists claim that many social behaviors have been shaped by natural selection for reproductive success, and they attempt to reconstruct the evolutionary histories of particular behaviors or behavioral strategies.

For example, evolutionary biologists have been long puzzled by cases of apparent altruism in certain animal societies: sterile workers in insect colonies, warning calls, resource sharing, and many others (see Darwin, 1859, pp. 235-242; 1871; 1872). Such behaviors appear to incur a cost to the cooperating or altruistic organisms, which would seem to make them impossible to evolve by natural selection. To explain the existence of altruism, sociobiologists first articulated the conditions under which altruistic behavior might be advantageous. In a series of theoretical papers in the 1960s and 70s, evolutionary biologists cleverly showed that natural selection would in fact favor behaviors that decrease the reproductive fitness of their actors, provided that close relatives sufficiently benefit (Hamilton, 1964; see also Trivers, 1974). Those models were later expanded to show how altruistic behaviors could evolve among unrelated organisms within social groups (Trivers, 1971; Hamilton, 1972; Maynard Smith, 1974). Further developments in the 1980s allowed evolutionary biologists to model more complex social dynamics (e.g., Axelrod and Hamilton, 1981; Maynard Smith, 1982; for a fuller treatment, see the entry on biological altruism). Sociobiologists then tested the explanatory adequacy of particular models for a given case by independently testing some of their parameter values and underlying assumptions.

That's old Ed Wilson (E. O. Wilson) and there's a pretty good little PBS show running currently about Ed--it's called The Lord of the Ants. Ed believes we are genetically programmed. Ed surely knows we are animals, monkeys?, yes, monkeys and apes--did you know there is a "Monkey Island" off Puerto Rico? Ed believes in instincts, too, but he also believes your instincts are the messages of your genes. Ah, Social Darwinism covered this, didn't it? Some critics sort of insinuate that Ed favors eugenics--selective breeding--which relates old Ed back to Dr. A. Hitler and his final-solution effort at controlling evolution.

Tribute to Jimmy McGriff

James Harrell McGriff was born on April 3, 1936, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, birthplace of many of jazz's greatest organists. He started playing piano at the age of five and by his teens, was also playing alto sax and upright bass. His first group was a piano trio, which found him playing bass in the band. When he joined the Army, McGriff served as an MP in Korea and settled in on a career as police officer for Philadelphia's finest, a gig which only lasted a little more than two years.

Music kept drawing McGriff's attention away from the police force. His childhood friend, organist Jimmy Smith, had begun earning a substantial reputation in jazz for his Blue Note records (the two played together once in 1967) and McGriff became entranced by the organ sound while Richard "Groove" Holmes played at his sister's wedding. Holmes went on to became McGriff's teacher, friend and, on two occasions in 1973, his sparring partner for two Groove Merchant records.

In April 1960, McGriff made the switch and started playing organ. He was greatly influenced by the energy and dynamics of organist Milt Buckner and the diplomatic aplomb of Count Basie. But such local pianists as Sonny Gatewood, Howard Whaley and Austin Mitchell held his favor too. McGriff formed a combo that played around Philadelphia and often featured upcoming tenor sax player, Charles Earland, who soon switched permanently to organ when he saw how much fun McGriff was having at the organ. During this time, McGriff also accompanied such artists as Don Gardner, Arthur Prysock, Candido and Carmen McRae who came through town for local club dates.

In 1961, McGriff's trio was offered the chance to record an instrumental version of Ray Charles's hit "I've Got A Woman" by Joe Lederman's Jell Records, a small independent label. When the record received substantial local airplay, Juggy Murray's Sue label picked it up and recorded a full album of McGriff's trio, released in 1962. The album also turned out another huge hit in McGriff's "All About My Girl," firmly establishing McGriff's credentials as a fiery blues-based organist, well-versed in gospel soul and fatback groove.

I used to have a Sue 45 rpm of Jimmy haulin' organ ass on "Broadway" and on Bird's "Jumpin' the Blues." And that album with Jimmy and Groove Holmes is a masterpiece, too; with Herman "Junior" Parker on it--supposedly recorded live in New Jersey.

For the moment:

for The Daily Growler

Let's See How Joe Torre's Doing Managing the Dodgers--Piss-Poor, You'd Probably Think If You Are Thinking Like a Duped Loyal Yankees Fan--So Check It Out [Keep in mind, the Yankees are in last place in their division, 6 1/2 out of first, playing 1 game under .500]
National League West
Arizona3021.588-19-811-135-93-620-54-6L 1
L.A. Dodgers2624.52015-1111-135-49-911-95-5L 1
Colorado2031.3921012-148-175-46-67-205-5L 1
San Francisco2031.3921011-159-164-56-1410-93-7L 2
San Diego1933.36511½11-148-192-77-109-144-6W 1

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

These sociobiology guys are such assholes. Where do they come up with the idea (their basic assumption) that altruistic behavior incurs a cost that would naturally select against it? Their work is all gobbledigook because they never examine their basic assumptions. Warning calls and resource sharing might just save your mate, your progeny and your own ass. Fucking morons.