The Troy Street Observer

April 6-11, 1987: Hammond B-3 Fest at the 1369

Photo of Jack McDuff
Jack McDuff in action

The advertisements said it was time to Swing in the Spring at the 1369 Jazz Club, which was presenting its Hammond B-3 Organ Festival. It was heaven for the fans of the B-3. From April 6th to the 11th in 1987, five organists filled the Inman Square club with the big Hammond sound.

All the festival performers could trace their lineage back to Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith. First up was Philadelphia’s Trudy Pitts, working then as always with drummer/vocalist Bill Carney, aka Mr. C. Next up was Don Patterson. Patterson, also then living in Philadelphia and attempting a comeback, was in poor health and lived only a few months after this gig. Third was Dr. Lonnie Smith. Fourth was Charles Earland. Finally, Brother Jack McDuff closed out the festival on Friday and Saturday nights.

For some, it must have seemed like 1967 all over again, as Pitts and McDuff had often been at Estelle’s in the sixties when that club featured jazz and a steady stream of organists (Davis, Shirley Scott, Bill Doggett, and Rhoda Scott among them). For others, it was a tour through the Prestige Records catalog—McDuff, Earland, Patterson, and Pitts released over 50 Prestige LPs among them in the 1960s.

There were Hammond players resident in Boston, too, during the sixties, and probably they were all at the 1369 that week: Hopeton Johnson, Hillary Rose, George Pearson, and Joe Bucci.

I haven’t found reviews of these shows yet, so I don’t know who came with their own groups and who traveled as a single, or how the crowd received them. But they were all hard-working musicians who learned their craft in barrooms in Newark, Atlantic City, and Detroit, and I’ve no doubt the patrons got their fill of soul jazz that week.

Here are two tunes to remember Cambridge’s week of the burners. First up is “Blue ‘n Boogie,” with Don Patterson joined by Jimmy Heath and Pat Martino. Up second is Charles Earland with Grover Washington, Jr. covering the familiar “Milestones.”

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