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The Great Jerry Jemmott: Jaw-dropping Session Bass from 1972

Richard "Groove" Holmes: American Pie

Tonight I grabbed a couple of CDs from the shelf for the drive to and from San Francisco (yes, I still play CDs on occasion). One was a 1972 album by Hammond organ master Richard “Groove” Holmes called American Pie. (Originally issued on Groove Merchant.)

Groove Holmes is infamous for veering too far into pop territory – some of his records could even pass for Muzak. But this grab bag of contemporary pop tunes (like the title track), originals, and jazz standards – despite its surfeit of warning signs, not least having a separate electric pianist on board – is downright delectable.

One big reason is the crazily competent electric bass playing of session giant Gerald (Jerry) “Fingers” Jemmott, “The Groovemaster”. I didn’t even look at the credits before popping in the disc, and halfway into the title track I’m asking who is this bass player and how can I learn to play like he does.

Anyway, I like nearly all the music on the album, even the pop and electric piano stuff, though my favorites are the standards “St. Thomas” and “Here’s That Rainy Day“. Check out the bass on the latter – exactly everything a sideman should do, just more and better, without ever being too much. So creative, but never over the top. Great, great stuff from the great, great Jerry Jemmott.

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