Organ master Jimmy McGriff may have studied formally at Juilliard and at Philadelphia's Combe College of Music, but there's nothing fancy about his music. It's basic to the bone, always swinging and steeped in blues and gospel. McGriff's brand of jazz is about feeling. That's the most important thing, he says.
Blues has been the backbone of most of the major jazz organists, including Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff, but throughout his 42-year recording career, McGriff has stuck closer to the blues than any of them. People are always classifying me as a jazz organist, but I'm more of a blues organ player, he insists. That's really what I feel.
McGriff's recordings of I've Got a Woman and All About My Girl were r&b and jukebox staples during the Sixties. With McGriff Avenue, his fourteenth album for Milestone (counting the five he's cut as co-leader with Hank Crawford), the Hammond organ grinder remains true to the blues grounding for which he's famous. The way things turned out, McGriff Avenue was not just another record date for the organist and his sidemen, as producer Bob Porter recounts in the CD notes. Porter had booked a noon session at Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio for September 11th, 2001, but that morning he quickly realized—especially since bridge and tunnel access to and from Manhattan was cut off soon after the World Trade Center towers were hit—that the session was not going to take place as scheduled.