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Notes from My Listening Room #8
By Josh Bizar

"Don't Forget to Tip Your Server"
These are crazy times. While we have seen amazing support from all of the country's first responders and medical care professionals, who always seem to summon the strength to accomplish what is needed of them, we are also seeing a new breed of heroes: food retailers, restaurant workers, drug store employees, pharmacists, postal employees who deliver our mail, and all the different delivery people, both private and professional. These individuals did not sign up for emergency work. They are just regular Americans who are stepping up during a global crisis, at great risk, to ensure the country has food, medicine, and other necessities. A massive "thank you" is certainly in order, and I hope we can all find a way to make these 2020 heroes feel appreciated. Even a small gratuity can go a long way to make it clear how valuable these people are to everyone. May all of our real-life heroes stay safe and healthy.

Cut of the Day: "OGD" by Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith
"OGD" is an outtake from Jimmy Smith's Back at the Chicken Shack. It was released on the extended CD version of the album about 20 years ago, and you should likely be able to find it on your streaming service. I was first turned on to the cut via Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Sixties, Vol. 1: The Blues, a Verve compilation album designed to go hand-in-hand with the John Lewis book of the same name. I found the LP when Michael Fremer wrote about a long-shuttered record warehouse that was selling off its sealed stock. I believe I learned about the sale from Fremer's fabulous, short-lived magazine, The Tracking Angle.

Guitar-organ trio recordings are a passion of mine. Straight or a little bit funky, the interplay between a master organist and fantastic guitarist is something special—and always seems to get my feet tapping, my face smiling, and my heartbeat pulsing.

Tonight, I needed to hear this cut. It wasn't filed under Leonard Feather. Not in my big, messed up pile of miscellaneous compilations. Not with my other Wes Montgomery albums, either. I finally found it in my Jimmy Smith stack. "ODG," also referred to in jazz circles as "Road Song," is just organ, guitar, and drums. And here, it's the dynamite drumming of Grady Tate going head to head with Jimmy and Wes.

This is a Jimmy and Wes workout—a real barn burner. I've never understood how it ended up on the cutting-room floor. I like the sound of it better than anything on Back at the Chicken Shack. If you have read any of my other posts, you know I love great guitar playing, and here, you get Wes at his best. He performs two solos—one single-note solo and then, a trademark octave solo later on. Jimmy is in rare form, trading off solos and comping like a man possessed. They all jam their asses off. A match made in guitar/organ heaven!

Album of the Day (Stream It): Lyle Lovett Step Inside This House
I streamed this classic album from the famous Texan singer/songwriter while working. Unlike most of Lyle Lovett's albums, it consists of cover songs written by fellow Texans—guys like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, among others. It was originally a 2CD set (never pressed on LP), and it's definitely worthy of your attention. Step Inside This House is intimate. There's no "Big Band" here. Instead, Lyle is accompanied by Viktor Krauss on bass, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Dean Parks on guitar, and several other great players. My favorite cut is the Guy Clark-penned title track. I've put it on countless mixes over the years. Detailed storytelling that remains easily relatable. It's one of my favorite songs, and I rarely rate my music in such a way. I also love the opener, "Bears," "Sleepwalking," "West Texas Highway," and the "Ballad of the Snow Leopard & the Tanqueray Cowboy." All these tracks are vividly written and performed, giving you more than your money's worth on the price of a monthlong streaming subscription. My highest recommendation for these times, this one is essential. That said, why aren't there any vinyl reissues of this or other Lyle LPs? That would sure make me happy!

March 30, 2020

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