Jack McDuff and Dave Specter | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jack McDuff and Dave Specter


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Jack McDuff's early 60s recordings on Prestige prove him to be a primary architect of the modern jazz-organ sound. His swinging, bluesy grooves, riding between impeccable artistry and jubilant funk, gave fans alienated by the increasing abstraction of postbop a reason to keep listening to jazz. McDuff elevates down-home R & B with churchy chording; his Hammond B-3's rich tone makes his fleet, bebop-influenced right-hand patterns sound even more hornlike; and his foot-pedal bass lines, which in the 50s prefigured the forcefulness of the Fender electric, also echo the throatiness and driving swing of early jazz bass instruments like the tuba and sousaphone. Local guitarist Dave Specter, who teamed with McDuff for Left Turn on Blue (Delmark) back in '96, has sharpened his improvisational dexterity in recent years, but he hasn't lost the no-nonsense grit he earned honing his chops in Chicago gin mills--which may be the key to this evening's success. Though McDuff can still carry on like a Mississippi jackleg preacher with a flask of whiskey in his boot, for a while now he's veered toward a poppy light-jazz sound--Specter could find himself prodding his elder to toe the line. They'll be backed by Specter's band, the Bluebirds; Lenny Lynn, who's been singing for Specter lately, handles the vocal chores. Saturday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Jack McDuff photo by Bruce Burr; Dave Specter photo by James Fraher.

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