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Pop Music & Jazz | JAZZ REVIEW

The Masters of Groove set rhythm on fire

March 07, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

They call themselves the Masters of Groove, and it would be hard to think of a more appropriate title for a trio that is generating rhythmic pyrotechnics this week at the Jazz Bakery. Nor was it surprising that in Wednesday's opening set, the foot-tapping energies were popping from the very first notes.

How could it have been otherwise, with an ensemble consisting of organist Reuben Wilson, whose recordings from the '70s have inspired the soul-music-revisited, acid jazz movement; drummer Clyde Stubblefield, a galvanizing force in James Brown's rhythm sections; and guitarist Grant Green Jr., the deserving successor to his illustrious father?

The music included selections from the group's album "Meet Dr. No," with a few R&B items tossed in for good measure.

Green's guitar work, a bit more hard-edged and riff-oriented than his father's often mellifluous playing, also relied on repeated patterns, building excitement with the exhortative passion of a revivalist preacher. Wilson countered with the combination of lush chordal sounds and crisply articulated melodic phrases that has characterized jazz organ playing from Jimmy Smith to Richard "Groove" Holmes. Stubblefield's funk rhythms, astonishingly simple in substance, incredibly effective in the way he delivered them, propelled everything with unstoppable force.

The Masters of Groove, for all their current appeal to the acid jazz players, represent a style that has had longevity, reaching back to the urban blues of the 1940s and '50s. It was vitalized by the arrival of the jazz organ in the 1950s and '60s, and has been a jazz mainstay ever since. With players such as Wilson, Stubblefield and Green Jr. on the scene, the style won't be disappearing any time soon.

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Masters of Groove

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City

When: Tonight-Sunday, 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $25

Contact: (310) 271-9039

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