A jazz-heavy diet rich with high-end finesse can sometimes leave you feeling malnourished and light-headed, and you may find yourself craving some deeply satisfying street-food served on a wonky plastic plate or, even better, in a paper bag. This 1998 compilation of the funkiest tracks from organist Reuben Wilson’s first three albums is the equivalent of having greasy garlic sauce rolling down your forearm and dripping from your elbows.
Recorded between October 1968 and December 1969, these are all the Wilson originals from those Blue Note sessions released as one solid set of groove jams without the surrounding lightweight pop covers that filled out the original albums. Gloriously unpolished and without the slightest pretension, the tunes and arrangements, which at first seem unrefined, are utterly beguiling. Riffs that seem flukey and throwaway get stuck in your ear, thanks in part to the raw delivery by Wilson. His soloing, too, is never dull as he plays with plenty of verve and is well supported by, among others, George Coleman on sax and prolific hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan who had appeared on several soul-jazz outings like this for Dr. Lonnie Smith around this time. Guitarist Grant Green appears on a couple of tracks, Melvyn Sparks on others. The drumming at times lags so behind-the-beat it is no surprise that the rhythms occasionally trip over themselves, and witnessing it come together again as if nothing happened is completely captivating. A surprisingly excellent collection of nuggets from a lost era. On first listen I wasn’t expecting this to be as addictive as it is, but here I am, plastic plate in hand, queuing up for more.