Acoustic Sounds

Melvin Rhyne Quartet

Boss Organ



Label: Criss Cross/Elemental

Produced By: Gerry Teekens

Engineered By: Max Bolleman

By: Michael Fremer

December 1st, 2022





"Boss Organ"s Vinyl Debut Makes For a Mighty Worthy Spin

Melvin Rhyne was playing with Wes at the Missile Room and in walks Cannonball

There's so much to like about this reissue of a 1994 Criss Cross release, here for the first time on vinyl, especially if you dig jazz organ. The title plays off of Wes Montgomery's 1993 Riverside album "Boss Guitar" on which Rhyne played in a trio with Jimmy Cobb on drums.

That fun set mostly consisting of covers was Montgomery's 9th for Riverside and not exactly a collection necessity. Both Rhyne and Montgomery were Indianapolis natives who were playing together in a small after-hours hang called The Missile Room. Big names like Horace Silver, Count Basie and Cannonball Adderley would hang out after gigs. Adderley returned to New York and alerted Orrin Keepnews who flew out and signed the group to Riverside.

Rhyne was an accidental organist who started on piano. The story is in the excellent notes by JazzTimes writer Bret Primack, who penned them in 1994 for the CD release. After his time with Montgomery, Rhyne like many others, chose to leave the road and ended up settling in Milwaukee where he later had a steady gig at a club called the Main Event.

Musicians passing through would gig with Rhyne, one of whom was guitarist Peter Bernstein who sat in with saxophonist Eric Alexander. For this session though, recorded at R.P.M. Studios on 12th Street in New York City, and produced by the late Criss Cross label founder Gerry Teekens, who passed away at age 83 in 2019, the saxophonist is then up and coming 25 year old Joshua Redman. Add drummer Kenny Washington and you have a happening quartet.

How much fun must it have been for Rhyne to come to New York and record this gig? The answer is in the grooves of this double LP set. If you dig organ but don't know Rhynes, or know him peripherally through the Montgomery albums, you'll feast on this set on which everyone is cooking.

The notes say there was not much rehearsal time on the tunes, chosen by Rhynes that include Montogmery's familiar "Full House" and opens with "Hattush's Blues", a Rhyne original as well as some standards. Side D contains "Bear's Tune" by a Rhyne Indianapolis friend done with a Latin swing and Duke Pearson's "Jeannine." When the others back off on "Bear's Tune" and give Rhyne some space, organ fans will find themselves having too much fun. Rhyne is a 'note-er' not a 'chord-blocker' and his choices churn with invention. Rhyne returns the favor and gives Washington some quality time before all join in for the restatement of the main theme. "Jeannine" gives everyone a chance to shine, especially Bernstein who lays out clean licks over Rhyne's tasty comping. A swell set. In the notes Rhyne is quoted as saying about "Jeannine", "That's another one I like to do. Everybody on the date knew it, so it was comfortable to play." That's obvious!

Rhyne, who released nine albums on Criss Cross passed away in 2013 at age 76. Not sure why the Spanish Elemental Music label chose this one, but it was a good one!

The sound is pretty good, not spectacular, very cleanly recorded as you'd expect from R.P.M. which was a legendary place, and though there's no mastering or source notes chances are it was sourced from a digital file and probably was also recorded digitally not that it matters in cases like this. Happy to have it on double vinyl in a gatefold jacket.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: 1080 LP

Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 140 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Multi LP