8 September 2007
CHARLES EARLAND - LIVING BLACK !
Charles Earland for Prestige from 1970.
With his towering physique and monstrous chops, Charles “The Burner” Earland dominated the jazz-organ bars once scattered across the cities of the “Chitlins Circuit”. From the late-60's through the early-80's, Earland gigged heavily throughout the black urban ghettos of the North, South and Midwest, conquering tough to please crowds with the blistering inferno of his fingers on the keys. It was in these rollicking live settings that Earland’s crowd-pleasing chops burned their brightest. As former Earland reedman Roy Nathanson told me shortly after the organist’s death in 1999, “People from all different backgrounds came together and had a good time. That was the cultural experience of playing those ghetto organ bars that barley exist today. Charlie and I had a lot of good times there.” Living Black! was recorded live in 1970 at one such venue—the Key Club in gritty Newark, New Jersey. Featuring a talented band of unknowns, including the mean but green Grover Washington Jr. on tenor sax, Living Black! captures the experience of an organ-bar jam session in all its hip-shaking glory. From the impromptu funk of “Key Club Workout” to the expansive 14 and1/2 minute blues-groove of “Killer Joe”, Earland’s inspired solos and bouncy vamps hold the listener in its fiery clutches. As Nathanson recalled, “Charlie was the most transcendent musician I ever played with. They called him ‘The Burner’ because sitting in his groove was like riding the world’s most souped up Cadalliac.” Setting the pace with his funky walking-bass pedal grooves, Earland pulls the most surprising performances out of his fellow musicians, who play beyond their limitations and obscurity to shine like stars.
Review from Must Hear.com