Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Recently unearthed 1982 performance by organist Jack McDuff in Seattle released

Jack McDuff in 1961, during a recording session
Francis Wolff
Blue Note Records
Jack McDuff in 1961, during a recording session.

Jack McDuff was what musicians call a "road warrior." He traveled wherever there was work, often preferring to haul his own Hammond B3 organ and huge Leslie rotating-speaker cabinet rather than take a chance on a sub-standard instrument provided by the venue.

Parnell's was a family-run jazz club in Seattle's Pioneer Square district. From 1976 through 1983, Parnell's hosted some of the biggest names in jazz: Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Blue Mitchell, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Anita O'Day, Joe Williams, Harold Land, Milt Jackson, Bob Dorough, Ray Brown, Dave Frishberg, Ernestine Anderson, Phil Woods, Charlie Byrd, Sonny Stitt and Cal Tjader.

Scott Hawthorn is a jazz organist, theatrical lighting designer, writer and teacher. His internet handle, "Scott the Organ Freak," is a name that was bestowed upon him by KNKX's legendary jazz host, Dick Stein.

Hawthorn has made connections with prominent organists around the world. He was running the stage stage sound and lighting at Parnell's when McDuff came to town in 1982, and recorded some of the performances on cassette tapes.

An earlier attempt to digitize the cassette recordings didn't turn out so well. In 1999, producer Greg Boraman at Soul Bank Music discovered "Scott the Organ Freak" online, and they discussed the tapes. Boraman took advantage of advances in technology to clean up and prepare the recordings for release on digital, CD and vinyl.

This is the first and only commercially-released recording from Parnell's.

The fifteen tracks recorded over the course of a week display McDuff's versatility and mastery of a broad spectrum of musical styles; from jazz standards and ballads to blues, funk and fusion. His skills as an arranger are also evident, as McDuff liked to re-arrange tunes in service to what jazz critic Whitney Balliett described as "the sound of surprise."

"Jack McDuff Live at Parnell's" captures a master musician at work in a fondly remembered era of Seattle's jazz history.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.