Monday, July 02, 2007

Thesis on John Patton by Javier Gonzalez

Thesis on John Patton by Javier Gonzalez

first published on the John Patton My space tribute site John Patton website


John Eugene Patton was born on July 12, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri, the fourth of six children to Minerva Elizabeth Moore Patton and Leroy Roscoe Russell Patton. Patton grew up in a musical environment, his mother being a music teacher who played the piano. Like many organists, John Patton first learned to play piano. According to Phyl Garland's liner notes to Patton's Let 'Em Roll LP (Blue Note 84239, 1966), "He more or less drifted into music, turning to the piano where he first picked out Gershwin's time-weary 'Lady Be Good.'" His mother taught him some piano and he was also taught by his grandmother, Bertha Elizabeth Moore, who taught him to play hymns for church. Patton recalls that his grandmother taught him: "[m]ost of the gospel that I know and all of the songs out of the hymn [book].…then my mother opened me up to learning to read lines and spaces and the notes…"[1] Leroy Patton played "a little guitar," eldest brother Leroy, Jr. plays drums and piano, and brother Jesse Maurice also played piano: "…he opened me up to that John Thompson piano book" [a book of scales and exercises]. John Patton began playing piano at the age of eight[2], but in his high school years at Lincoln High (the same high school that was briefly attended by Charlie Parker), he also "got a chance to have some drum lessons." He elaborates: "I pursued that end when I was going to school in the band. I played snare drum and bass drum and stuff like that. You couldn't take the piano out there. I tried to play the trombone, but in my young years, when I was going to school, I had asthma kind of bad…so I couldn't really deal with that…I ended up playing keyboards."[3]

Patton's parents separated in 1946. Patton was closest to younger brother, Jerry (born Gerald William Patton, July 2, 1937). Patton remembers: "We would run off and do all kinds of crazy stuff. When I was 13 or 14, we stole a car and went across the state line to Kansas, which landed me in reform school. Then I joined the scouts [Boy Scouts], straightened out for a while."[4]

An early musical inspiration was his cousin Lemuel Patton, who also played the piano. Lemuel "used to come by the house and show me little things."[5] Among the "little things" Lemuel showed the young John Patton was how to play boogie woogie in the style of Albert Ammons, and at that point he "just couldn't get off of the piano…"[6] Patton commented to Terry Martin in 1986: "You know swinging Kansas City…automatically you'll try to play some blues, and really I've always wanted to play jazz. I'd try to get in the clubs on 12th St…I wasn't old enough…I heard Dinah, Jay McShann, Marvin Patillo, a very good drummer…I went to school with Donald Dean, a drummer who later worked with Les McCann. There were little gigs at school and I was working a bit with my cousin; we went to that Wyatt Earp town…[Dodge City, Kansas]"[7]

That cousin, Rudolph Downing, a singer six years Patton's senior, provided Patton with his first professional experience, playing rhythm and blues, in 1950. The band went through several changes in personnel and name, with Patton and Downing staying at the core. As Downing was the frontman, the name often ended up being simply "the Rudolph Downing Quintet." Patton can not recall specifically where his first gig was, but does recall: "I was really nervous. Rudolph told me what to do. He was a showman."[8] The band would play weekend engagements around Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) and in towns like Junction City, Kansas; Wichita, Kansas, Topeka, Kansas; Lee Summit, Missouri; and as far north as Omaha, Nebraska. Patton was still attending high school and vocational school (focusing on auto mechanics). The band earned enough of a reputation in the area that they would have posters printed with their picture on it. Referring to this group Patton recalled: "We tried to do the whole thing," including the look of many rhythm and blues artists of the era, "I remember trying to get a process [laughs]…"[9] The band also would wear matching outfits.

In mid-1954, Patton left Kansas City and headed east to Washington, D. C. "When I came out of school, I, well, like everybody, wanted to get out of my hometown."[10] Older brother Jesse was already living in Washington at the time, attending Howard University. Jesse went on to graduate with a law degree from Howard. Originally, that was also to be the plan for John Patton. He recalls: "I was supposed to go there and go to school and ended up working at a service station." Instead of going to school Patton: "…ended up somewhere else [in terms of what he was doing]…working with different musicians in Washington D.C."[11] Among these musicians was a drummer from Gaffney, South Carolina named Ben Dixon (b. December 25, 1934), who would figure prominently in Patton's career for the next decade. Dixon had lived in Washington, D. C. since childhood and appeared on several jazz dates in the late 1950's with Wilbur Ware, Mal Waldron, Ray Draper's Tuba Sounds and Leo Parker.[12] Dixon's main reputation as a drummer is from his work in organ groups. The bulk of his recordings are in that format, and he gigged with Jack McDuff, Larry Young, Groove Holmes, Sonny Phillips, and Shirley Scott among others. As Dixon recalls, "I left [Lloyd Price's band] in '60, fall of '60 and I went with Jack McDuff because at that point I wanted to get away from the big bands [Price had a 14 piece band at that point]. and play with the organ because I felt that I could contribute a lot to, you know, the jazz organ trio style. In fact, when I left Lloyd, I was offered gigs with Basie, Ray Charles, and Duke Ellington."[13] Dixon also gigged at different times with the Herbie Nichols trio that also included Wilbur Ware, Howard McGhee's big band and small combo, Frank Foster's big band and small combo, and later on, with Kenny Dorham and Sonny Rollins. While in college at Central State in Wilberforce, Ohio, Dixon had met and played with Cecil McBee, Gigi Gryce's brother Tom Gryce, and arranger Phil Wright, who arranged for Chess records in the 1960's, including Fontella Bass's hit "Rescue Me."[14] His varied experiences were an influence on Patton.

Of Dixon, Patton said: "Ben Dixon was my mentor…he was a hell of a reader and did a lot of writing [Dixon wrote several tunes on Patton's early Blue Note records Along Came John, Blue John, and Oh Baby!, as well as being a sideman and also penned the answer to Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man," titled "Cantaloupe Woman"]. He liked Max [Roach] for his technical ability and melodic playing, but Philly Joe Jones, who was his idol, for the flair. Ben was always trying to create different beats, he could really swing and was so uninhibited about 2 and 4; he was like the drummers now, he would utilize the sock cymbal and turn the cymbal beat around…just create his stuff. Very few of the musicians I have played with are as great musically and rhythmically."[15] Dixon commented on his own playing, "You take all of those recordings in chronological lockstep, you'll find if you listen to me, listen to what I'm doing, you'll find that there's something different going on along, along, along, along. You know...and a lot of those [recordings], what they emphasized a lot is my high hat, so you didn't hear a lot of the stuff that I was doing on the drums and on the cymbals, but I'd be playing a lot of broken rhythm."[16] And indeed, on George Braith's Laughing Soul in 1966 (his penultimate recording with Patton), Dixon plays different latin rhythms, plays melodically, and shows a more intricate groove than on previous recordings.

Patton echoed Dixon's sentiments of continuing to develop as a musician in the liner notes to his Oh Baby! album in 1965, "I want to go on studying. A musician cannot stand still. The mechanical power of the organ can delude you into projecting strength as opposed to blending it with other instruments. Control is very important and so is direction."[17] As Patton commented to Martin, Dixon also gained a reputation for playing melodic figures on the drums, as Dixon remembered, "Well, I had a reputation for that from Lloyd's band. Because in Lloyd's band, a lot of the melodic breaks I played on the drums, you know, a lot of that came from the fellow writing the arrangements, too, you know. So, all that followed me right along and certain musicians would...well, the older musicians would definitely pick up on it, 'Oh, yeah, man, that Ben Dixon, he plays the melody on the drums.'"[18] Dixon brought many things to his musical relationship with Patton, and their ongoing interaction for several years gave them a bond few musicians get a chance to develop. The development of Dixon's own concept on the drums can be heard in comparing his playing on any Lou Donaldson session, as an example, with his highly creative, and grooving, drumming on George Braith's Laughing Soul. Leroy Williams, a later contributor to Patton's groups, does the same when called for. Marvin Cabell's "Village Lee," from Accent On The Blues, is a case in point.

Eventually, Patton was hired by Rick Henderson. Henderson led the house band at the Howard Theater. The Howard was Washington's equivalent to the Apollo Theater in New York, and a stopping point for all of the major rhythm-and-blues revues traveling the country, as well as other variety acts like Flip Wilson and Pearl Bailey. Patton's rhythm-and-blues experience came in handy in backing groups like the Coasters, and the Drifters, among others, but his time at the Howard also sharpened his sight-reading skills, as there would be sheet music passed out to back up the different and acts and, many times, the music was seen for the first time by the accompanying musicians.[19] This also helped diversify his repertory and musical knowledge, preparing him for the next break in his career, becoming the pianist in singer Lloyd Price's band---not to mention the fact that it earned Patton a reputation in the music scene in Washington D.C. Furthermore, the Howard Theater itself was located on the strip of Washington's 14th Street, which housed several of D.C.'s most happening clubs.

Lloyd Price (b. March 9, 1932 in Kenner, Louisiana)[20] had enjoyed the hit records "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Mailman Blues," "Oh, Oh, Oh," and "Restless Heart," in 1952 and 1953 on the Specialty label. "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," originally recorded as an advertisement for a New Orleans radio station in 1952, was a number one hit on the rhythm-and-blues charts[21] and became a sort of signature tune for Price. Price's career was interrupted by a stint in the military in 1954. In the military, Price gained further experience leading a band, which also backed diverse artists like Jimmy Durante, Debbie Reynolds, Terry Moore, Wonder Smith, and the Cover Girls. Though he earned his initial reputation as a rhythm-and-blues singer, Price later recorded jazz standards and pop material. Upon his release from the Army, the former sergeant Price settled in Washington, D. C. where he began to get his music career back on track, first organizing a record label, KRC records, and putting a new band together.[22] In April, 1955[23], Patton recalls: "I met Lloyd Price, who was looking for a piano player. Someone told him I was in town and I had an audition. He asked me to play the introduction to 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy.' I played that and I had the gig." This meeting occurred backstage at the Howard Theater.[24] Joining Price's group was a crucial formative experience in numerous ways for the then-19-year-old Patton. "My first exposure to [playing jazz] standards came in my first stint in Lloyd's band."[25]

Patton met numerous musicians through his association with the Price band. Among them was saxophonist/flutist/composer Harold Vick, who would appear on Patton's first record date as leader in 1963 and several sessions that followed (including Vick's own debut as leader on which Patton appeared--see discography). Vick (born April 3, 1936 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina; died New York City, November 13, 1987)[26] had followed a similar path to Washington, D. C. as Patton, intending to attend Howard University. It was after his graduation with a degree in psychology from Howard in 1958, that Vick dedicated himself to be a full-time musician, eventually landing in the Price band at the same time as Patton and Ben Dixon. Vick had also shared a similar experience to Patton's in the Howard Theater house band before joining Price. Vick left the group in 1960, moved to New York and worked briefly with Howard McGhee and Philly Joe Jones before joining organist Jack McDuff's group. The personnel at the time in McDuff's group included Grant Green[27], who, later, became one of Patton's closest associates, and who, to this day, remains Patton's favorite guitarist.[28] Ben Dixon was also in the group.

In the case of many rhythm-and-blues and pop singers, it was (and still is) rare for there to be mention of the band and for there to be credit to the band (some notable exceptions being James Brown's JB's, or the original Bar-Kays who backed Otis Redding). The liner notes to Price's albums were no exception, except for one record, The Exciting Lloyd Price (1959), which has the first mention of Patton on a record sleeve, in the liner notes. Natt Hale wrote:

The Price band consists of nine hand-picked musicians (including Lloyd), and the leader composes, arranges, and sings (but naturally!) most of their great repertoire. Included in the band is John Patton, Lloyd's pianist, who is virtually the leader's right- hand man. Johnny, now but 23 years old, has been with Price for four years, and is the key man of the entire band. In almost every interview with Price, he usually gives a goodly [sic] share of mention to Patton, extolling his great musicianship and versatility. According to Lloyd, Patton could easily go down as one of the outstanding jazz pianists of all time, were it not for the fact that his work with the Price unit confines his playing to the unique style which has become so identifiable with the group in general.[29]

Patton was eager to learn, and many more-experienced musicians were members of the group. Furthermore, the personnel was constantly shifting. Patton stayed with the band, and his longevity with the group increased his responsibilities within it. Part of Patton's responsibility in the Price band was as a talent scout to find musicians to join the band. Patton recalls, " I tried to find drummers and guitar players and stuff like that. Whenever one would quit, I'd be out there looking...I got Ben [Dixon] the job with Lloyd, you know."[30] Price's band augmented from six, to nine, to ten, to eventually, fourteen pieces. On occasion, last minute hires had to be made to fill in for recently departed players, or players who did not show up to gigs or sessions.

One such occasion occurred the very day that some of the tracks for the aforementioned Exciting Lloyd Price session were recorded; luck also played a part in the situation. Trumpeter Ted Curson, one of many jazzmen to play in the Price band, recalled the scene: "I was standing outside on a street corner practicing my horn and this car drives up. These guys [Patton and Price] get out and ask me if I want to come down and do some recording with their group. I agreed and got in the car right then and went to the studio. Then they asked me if I want to get paid in cash or in royalties from what the record sells. I took the cash, $66 dollars I think, and was on my way. I never actually joined the band. Years later, I found out the record ["Stagger Lee" a number one hit for Price in 1958[31]] had sold 5 million copies! I ran into Lloyd and was joking with him that I should have taken the royalty deal! [laughs]"[32]

Patton also took on a musical responsibility in Price's band. Though the personnel on Price's records is never listed, Patton recalls: "I'm on the majority of Lloyd's records...with ABC-Paramount."[33] Furthermore: "We [Price and Patton] collaborated on a lot of tunes, "Personality," "[Where Were You On Our] Wedding Day?," "Stagger Lee," "Have You Ever Had The Blues?"[34] The collaborations were often un-credited, and at times, Harold Logan, Price's business partner who was not a musician, would receive song-writing credits. "The story was that Lloyd got all the credit, you know...we were just the band."[35] For the record, Patton was credited, along with Logan and Price, for "Where Were You On Our Wedding Day?" Ben Dixon remembers, "John was a great writer in that vein....John Patton knew how to write hits. In fact he wrote one called 'Where Were You On Our Wedding Day?' which sold about 800,000 copies I think."[36] Later on, in 1961, after leaving Price's band, Patton got a job as a staff song-writer for Scepter Records, a label that was oriented towards the pop side of rhythm-and-blues and included such acts as Dionne Warwick and the Shirelles. Again, the royalties went elsewhere as Patton was on salary.[37] Ben Dixon was also involved, "John, myself, [guitarist] Skeeter Betts, and, oh, man...Bobby Bushnell and Jimmy Lewis...they were the bass players, we would be on payroll for Figure Music, for Jack Hook, and...we would do the demos with Pearl Wood and her group. Pearl Wood wrote 'Something Got A Hold Of Me,' and some other hits, you know. We'd do things like that. We'd do things for Scepter Music, because John would play all of Burt Bacharach's piano parts...we used to do the demos. I don't know if I was on a lot of the sessions or not, but we used to do a lot of work for Scepter Records."[38]

Another responsibility Patton earned in the Price band was that of straw boss. Jimmy Cobb describes a straw boss: "...that's what they say to a guy that handles the business in a band like Count Basie's band; at one time it used to be Lockjaw Davis. Because the guys would come to him to...draw money and get information about traveling and all that stuff, but he would take care of it. Because Basie couldn't do it or was too busy to do it..." [39] This was true of many bands where the leader was dealing with other responsibilities. Price was a businessman involved in many endeavors, and his name could be accurately inserted in the previous quote. Patton recalls, " I was straw boss up until he started augmenting, I'd say up until he had 10 pieces."[40] The responsibilities of being straw boss did not come without its pitfalls, and Patton found himself in the middle of situations that would challenge his personal integrity. He told Pete Fallico: "I was dealing with musicians that thought I was 'tommin''[41] or doing whatever Lloyd told me to do....well, you're damn right I did, 'cause he was paying the money and I wanted the experience and we came together with a lot of it."[42] Patton would later take on the same responsibility when leading his own groups in the 1960's and when on the road with Grant Green.[43]

Price's popularity in the 1950's led to a constant touring schedule of one-nighters, usually up and down the east coast, in addition to the occasional week-long engagements in the Howard in Washington, the band's home base, the Apollo in New York, the Royal Theater in Baltimore, and the Regal Theater in Chicago. "Lloyd bought a bus when we toured with fourteen pieces...I was on tour with Lloyd and...they had...Little Willie John [who had a big hit with "Fever"], and the Coasters, and the Drifters, and the Isley Brothers and all of that. The Coasters would do these skits that would just break people up laughing, I loved playing with them. And you know, Lloyd was a showman. I would usually stand and direct the band and I'd have to do the dance moves Lloyd and the horns were doing that would go along with tune while I stood there at the piano, but I wouldn't do none of that Little Richard stuff of putting your leg on the piano, I thought that was a little too show-offy...Lloyd was the showman, anyway."[44] As is typical of road stories, the band would often have to break down their equipment after the gig and get right back on the road and drive as far as 500 miles to their next engagement. The Price band was not immune to the indignities suffered by many travelling black musicians in the south, "walking in the back door, and stuff like that."[45] The Price band would tour for months at a time, then return to Washington during its downtime. Price would keep his musicians on a partial salary to keep their commitment to the band for the stretches of time the band was not on the road.

Patton embarked on three tours with Price in 1955-6. Price took a break from touring late in 1956 and Patton returned home to Kansas City for four months in 1957. He stayed with his mother. While in Kansas City, Patton enrolled in the recently-formed Charlie Parker Conservatory, run by a Kansas City native, tenor saxophonist Eddie Baker. As the name would suggest, the curriculum was geared towards teaching jazz. The student body consisted mostly of young, black musicians. Patton studied theory, took lessons, and also gave lessons there. There were small combos and big bands that would be brought together in the Conservatory, offering Patton a diverse musical learning experience.[46]

Patton returned to Washington in the summer of 1957 and continued to work in Price's band, touring and recording. Price continued to record hits through the end of the 1950's, keeping the band busy. Despite the constant activity, Patton said of the income from Price's band: "You know, you had enough money to pay your hotel rent, food, and keep your clothes, and stay clean if you didn't have too many bad habits."[47] The band stayed busy enough so that Patton only did a few gigs on the side. The significance of these side-gigs would be felt later. The band's heavy touring schedule took the band to many clubs, and as was common at the time, many of the clubs had an organ. Patton recalls, "...when I was playing with Lloyd I would run into different clubs that would have an organ and try to play it. At made me kind of back away, you know, because the touch is different."[48] While still in Washington, Patton recalls playing a few jazz gigs as a pianist. "I met Gene Ammons in Washington, D. C. and we played together several times...early on, right around Lloyd Price, right after I started wanting to get away from the rock."[49]

By the summer of 1961, "He [Lloyd Price] didn't work as much as he was working, so he put us on salary and, you know, I stayed around New York and started living downtown, 47th Street."[50] The place where Patton lived on 47th Street was the Flanders Hotel, "between Broadway and 7th Avenue,"[51] which was a common stopping place for jazz musicians in the first half of the 1960's. Many musicians from Lionel Hampton's band also lived at the Flanders.[52] "It was a hotel where a lot of musicians stayed. I would get together with a lot of musicians from Lionel Hampton's band and we would rehearse in the hotel. Oh, man...Jimmy Garrison, everybody...[drummer] Wilbert Hogan, a trumpet player by the name of Wallace Davenport...I could just go on and on."[53] Patton eventually quit the Price band, with which he had been affiliated for the better part of the past six years. At that point, Patton also made a decision that would forever change his career: he began the switch from playing the piano to playing the organ. As Leonard Feather commented on Blue Note's press release on Patton: "Patton says that the change-over from piano to organ was not easily accomplished."[54] Of course, the decision to switch, and the learning process of actually playing the organ, did not occur overnight. As Phyl Garland commented in 1966: "Initially, the instrument seemed formidably difficult. For one accustomed to the piano, since it required less physical force, but the ultimate in control and coordination. From then on, Patton turned increasingly to the organ, working out on one whenever he could find a vacant instrument and no derisive audience."[55] As the liner notes to his first LP as leader quote him: " 'I began to hear the organ,' Patton says of his first experiences with the instrument, 'I began to hear what you could do with it. I got attached to it, and every time I played, the closer I would get to what I wanted.'"[56] Patton recalls: "When I was in Washington, I met this musician. His name was [Harold] Butts...he showed me how to set up the organ [adjust the tone], the B-3 and everything."[57] Butts, an organist who was active locally in the Washington area, obviously put Patton on the right track to finding a sound from the organ, a difficult instrument to find a distinctive tone on. Composer/alto saxophonist John Zorn said of Patton in 1990: "[H]e's got one of the great organ sounds of all time; tweaking those little Hammond bars and getting an original sound out of that monster is one of the most difficult arts in the world."[58] Patton commented on the subject in 1965: "The numerous stops do not intrigue me. I feel the organ is an instrument to be played and not conquered. I do admit that you must learn to play the organ or it will play you."[59]

The inspiration to play the organ came on its own to Patton, who, unlike other pianists who turned to the organ, were inspired to make the switch upon listening to Jimmy Smith. A portion of one of my interviews on the subject of Jimmy Smith:

JG: Off the top of your head, do you remember the first time you heard Jimmy Smith?

JP: First time I heard him, not in person, but on records was with Lou.

JG: So you were already playing the organ. You had no idea what Jimmy Smith sounded like until then?

JP: Just a little bit. But I mean, to really listen to him and put the album on, and go to sleep with it on, you know. They said, "Hey John, you've got to listen to this cat here, so on and so on." And everybody was talking about Jimmy because Jimmy was gettin' over, man. He had that, they were really that particular time the organ bass line...they had to learn how to get that bass line out of the organ. You could always get the highs, but you get them [the highs and lows] together. They were talking about that part of it, you know what I mean. And that really, really sunk in. I said, "Well, I've got to find a way to this [looking at left hand], to coordinate with this [looking at right hand], with both hands, you know."[60] Smith's influence is evident in a few of Patton's solos recorded in 1963, particularly in his use of chords with the vibrato unit turned on to climax the solos (a typical Smith device from early in his career).[61] Smith's influence is far more difficult to discern later in Patton's career.

Smith's commercial success and popularity from his emergence in 1955 had been an influence on numerous pianists to switch to organ[62] for economic reasons as well. Philadelphia disc jockey Del Shields commented in 1965: "As with most organists, John is an ex-pianist. In his case, his switch to the organ was not based on the lure of additional jobs to continue working as a musician. He liked the sound of the organ. He was fascinated by its melodic sound and fullness."[63] Patton himself adds, "I switched to the organ because I've always liked playing bass lines."[64] Later, in 1965 he commented to Phyl Garland, " It was something that just got into my ears. I kept hearing the sorts of things Jimmy Smith could do with it, and I listened hard."[65]

Naturally, the decision to switch to organ was not made cold. Patton's first gig on organ was in 1960, while still in Washington, "at a club on 14th St. and T, by the Howard Theater," subbing for the aforementioned Harold Butts. The club was called the Flamingo[66], and Patton would substitute for Butts several times there in 1960 on gigs led by alto saxophonist Maurice Robinson, a local musician on the Washington scene. There were two key factors that got Patton to switch to the organ once and for all, in the summer of 1961. The first was a bit of persuasive talking by his friend and colleague, Ben Dixon, who encouraged the switch. Dixon recalls, " I'd encouraged John to get on the organ because...well, John, we used to practice a lot, you know. And John would walk the piano with his left hand, you kow and he was tremendous. I was saying, 'Man, you should start playing the organ, man. You know...' So I just encouraged him and encouraged him all the time because we always practiced and rehearsed together, you know...regardless of where we were. And so I thought it was a great thing for him to do. [laughs] And the rest is history as they say."[67] Patton reiterates the point as he told Terry Martin in 1986, "Eventually, musicians were saying 'why don't you play organ, man, 'cause you got this good bass line." Of his early influences, Patton told Martin, "When I started to play organ I didn't kow about Milt Buckner, Bill Davis...I had heard Bill Doggett because of the honky tonks. It didn't mean anything to me at that time, I was listening to piano players and Hampton Hawes, Horace (Silver) and Wynton Kelly were my favorites." Silver's influence is evident in Patton's early single line work, and Patton recalled, "When 'Doodlin'" came out, every piano player wanted to get to it." Later on, Patton did have a face to face encounter with Wild Bill Davis. "When I was touring with Grant, I met Wild Bill Davis up in Rochester, or Buffalo. He was so natural, man! He showed me all kinds of stuff...we sat on the same stool while he showed me. His records didn't show him had to catch him in person, he was dynamite!"[68]

Dixon, incidentally, had previously quit the Price orchestra and decided to stay in New York, and had already recorded two sessions for Blue Note with organist Roosevelt "Baby Face" Willette, and a session with Jack McDuff for Prestige (Grant Green was also sideman on all of the aforementioned sessions) as a member of the band, and Grant Green's first session as leader for Blue Note. As Dixon recalls, "What happened was that me and Grant, we were tight. And, in fact, we were very tight. We were like brothers, you know. Just the kind of affinity we had. So Baby Face [Willette] had come to town. He was in New York. And so when we were working with McDuff, Face used to come by Count Basie's and you know, me and Harold and Grant were working there. You know, Lou used to come through there every night...Anyway, so it just materialized that thing came up for Grant to record and you know Grant used me as the drummer and he wanted to use Baby Face as the organ player, so you know, they put three new stars together."[69] This situation put Dixon in the heart of the scene and was an asset to Patton when he decided to stay in New York in 1961. Patton credits Dixon with introducing him to "everybody" in his early days in New York, including future associates like reedman George Braith (see discography). The second key factor was an opportunity to gig regularly on the organ in a group fronted by the aforementioned Herman Greene. That summer, Patton traveled back and forth from New York, with Greene's group, to Asbury Park, New Jersey.[70] According to Phyl Garland's liner notes to Patton's "Let 'Em Roll" LP (Blue Note 84239, 1966), Patton made his debut as leader in a club in New Jersey. Patton confirmed the gig in Asbury Park is the one that the liner notes are referring to.

Upon returning to New York, Patton worked Branker's[71], a club in the Sugar Hill area of Harlem, on 155th St. and St. Nicholas Ave. Patton recalls: "Everyone came through there. I met Donald Byrd...Calvin Newborn, Gloria Coleman...Lou Donaldson. You name the musician. That's where I met Lou."[72] Donaldson, an established figure on the New York scene, had recorded with Jimmy Smith in 1957 and 1958, and in 1961 had recorded two sessions with organists under his own name[73]. Donaldson had not used organ on gigs to that point, but decided to make the change in instrumentation "because we'd show up to gigs at a lot of clubs and there wouldn't be a piano. So we couldn't do the gig."[74] Sometimes the clubs would have an organ, and "we couldn't take a piano on the road."[75] Donaldson had a circuit of clubs he played regularly in cities like Rochester, New York, Buffalo, New York, Cleveland, Ohio. The tours would extend as far west as California. So, late in 1961, Donaldson hired Patton to join his group, "John was the first organ player I hired for gigs."[76] Patton recalls one of his first gigs with Donaldson was on New Year's Eve 1961-1962 at the Five Spot, opposite the Walter Bishop Trio.[77]

Taking an organ on the road was an option for Donaldson's group, though it, too, had its own pitfalls. Aside from the seemingly inevitable hernias Patton suffered from moving the 300-pound instrument (not even counting the large Leslie speaker that it was hooked up to), "I lost two organs, man. One was a beautiful modified ebony organ."[78] One such occurrence happened on a tour with Donaldson while driving down the New York State Throughway, "The hinge to the trailer door busted and the organ fell out. It passed us down the road as we were going down this hill."[79] Not all clubs that were considered "organ clubs" were actually conducive to having an organ in them. One such club was the Cadillac Club, located at the corner of Williams and Halsey Street in downtown Newark[80], which did not have its own organ. There was a horseshoe shaped bar with the bandstand behind the bar so, "You'd have to lift the organ over the bar to get it to the stage," recalls organist Reuben Wilson of the Cadillac.[81] The Cadillac was a club played regularly by Patton in the 1960's and into the early 1970's. Another club played by Patton often in the late 1960's, Slug's, did not have an organ at all. As such, Patton had to haul his back and forth to this gig, and other gigs as well.

"As a veteran performer, he [Lou Donaldson] knows the difficulties younger musicians face while hoping for a chance to be heard. He has not been selfish. He has brought many of those young musicians to the attention of Al Lion of Blue Note where they receive their first recording dates. Many have become leading recording artists as a result," Donaldson was well aware of what kind of sound he wanted from his group, "Once again surrounding himself with young talented jazzmen not ashamed of taking the funky route to soulville." [82] "Lou, you know, was recording for Blue Note. I started working with Lou. We started going out on the road together that was really something...heavy duty."[83] Patton, for all of his experience with Price to that point, was fairly new to playing jazz, and also the organ. "Lou was a little more experienced, they were really experienced, man. They knew how to hit...they knew how to do it and talk about it and put it together without so much rehearsing. It's phenomenal how they did that."[84] The "they" he refers to is Donaldson's working band at the time which included either Tommy Turrentine or Bill Hardman on the trumpet, Patton's former bandmate in Price's band, Ben Dixon on the drums, and, occasionally, Grant Green on guitar.

Green would become one of Patton's closest friends and musical associates for the next several years. Though he does not remember for sure where he met Grant Green, Patton says, "I think I met Grant at the Cecil Hotel [which was right next door to Minton's and a place musicians often stayed]. I got a chance to see him work with Mac [Jack McDuff]."[85] He told Terry Martin in 1986, "Grant was dynamite as far as I was concerned. I also learned a whole lot from him, particularly as a soloist. He was a hell of a soloist...the way he played single lines was really unbelievable."[86]

Green's struggles with drug addiction have been well-documented, most recently in a biography by Sharony Andrews Green, published in 1999.[87] There were problems as a result of Green's drug problems. An example of this occurred at a gig at Branker's Showplace on the Hill in August, 1963, "Green simply refused to play any longer and went home."[88] Patton recalls playing as a duo part of the night with the drummer. At times, the group augmented when "other musicians would come and sit in."[89] To Green's credit, Patton says this situation was truly an anomaly, and his track record of literally dozens of consistently high quality recording sessions during the 1960's attests to this. "Grant never missed gigs, and he would never show up to the studio sick or stuff like that. He was always ready to play." He adds of his dear friend, "Grant had no animosity, no [con]descension. From the time I met Grant, I was very, very outdone with Grant. His sound, the way he played. I always wanted to play with Grant. Fortunately, I am glad that he wanted me to play with him and that's when everything really opened up musically. I learned about life, music, surviving on the road, playing clubs. I learned about getting in contact with club owners. We did the whole thing. We covered the whole thing, the whole realm of that...of being a musician and booking yourself and working and driving from town to town...just being a group. Being there for each other. I was there for him, he was there for me...more so, musically, he was really there for me. The woodshedding that we did together, man, was great. We just clicked...clicked very, very well. I don't know what else to say, except thank God for Grant. He's one of my mentors for sure. Grant's hearing was so developed and he was such a natural. His prior learning, wherever it came from, God's gift that he was just in place. From the sound you can tell it had to be just more so than wasn't so much going to Juilliard and places like that [which Green did not, he was self-taught]. Grant was just phenomenal. Grant was a sweet person, yes indeed...had a big heart, too...and he was a sharing person. I can't say too much about Grant. I don't know what to say sometimes, it was such a beautiful thing in my life...and that was a beautiful page in my life, more than one page. That was a beautiful experience, beautiful everything in my life, that I met Grant Green."[90]

In the spring of 1962, Donaldson gave Patton his first chance to be heard on record as an organist. "Lou was going in the studio and I think they invited Alfred [Lion] and Frank Wolff up…Lou told them about these tunes I had. So I went in the studio with Lou. That was my first experience with Blue Note. They gave me a contract."[91] One of the tunes Patton had was called "Funky Mama," and it was recorded at that initial session for Blue Note on May 9, 1962 that produced Donaldson's "Natural Soul" LP (Blue Note 84108). The tune would remain in both Patton's and Donaldson's band books for many years to come, as it became popular among audiences for live performance and as a jukebox 45-rpm record. "It was called something else at that particular time… 'Mary Lois' or something like that. That was my wife."[92] Ben Dixon recalls, "John's tune, 'Funky Mama,' that was a big hit. But at that time, they wouldn't say 'Funky Mama' on the radio. They'd say 'Funny Woman.' It was a moral thing, you know. You know how that thing goes.. It's not like today. I mean today if you say 'Funky Mama,' everybody will say, 'yeah,' you know. At that time, even that kind of case of innuendo was not accepted, you know...on the air."[93]

The contract with Blue Note had Patton in the studio again on June 21, 1962 backing up tenor saxophonist Fred Jackson. Jackson, a gut-bucket tenor stylist from Atlanta, Georgia, was also an alumnus of the Lloyd Price band and friends with Patton and Ben Dixon, who was also on the session, as was Grant Green. The session is most notable because Patton was recorded on piano and not on organ (Herbie Lewis was brought in to play the bass), the only time he would do so for Blue Note[94]. He recalled that he would occasionally still take piano gigs on the side when not gigging with the Donaldson band. The session was also Patton's last trip to the studio until January 24, 1963.

Things were picking up for Patton in the summer of 1962, working regularly in Donaldson's group on tour and around New York. At a gig with Lou Donaldson at Minton's Playhouse, Patton's wife, Mary Lois, accused another woman of wanting her husband and a heated argument with the woman ensued. The argument soon turned into an all-out brawl between the two, with Patton himself caught in the middle trying to straighten out the situation. The two women eventually ended up out on the street fighting in front of Minton's. Patton recalled, "She [Mary Lois] grabbed the girl by the hair and threw her in the street. Then she started pulling her hair out, yelling and screaming." The police eventually came and broke up the fight and no arrests were made. Patton insists that he was innocent in the situation and that Mary Lois' jealousy was unfounded. Mary Lois was not convinced, and as Patton said the first time he spoke to me of the situation on January 29, 1999, "that goes into a long, long, drawn out thing." Several days passed, and Mary Lois turned her anger toward Patton. She purchased a .22 caliber rifle.[95]

Patton had no idea she had done this and went to sleep early on an off night from gigging after being kept up for three days straight by Mary Lois. He was sleeping on his stomach when Mary Lois put the barrel of the rifle in his lower back and shot Patton at point blank range. The bullet became lodged in his lower back about two inches to the left of his spine, and "at first, they weren't going to take it out. But eventually, they took it out." The events of that night are a blur in Patton's mind, he survived the gunshot, was taken to the hospital, Mary Lois was arrested and that was the end of their marriage of nearly four years. The situation was, obviously, a traumatic one, and Patton did not want to talk about it at all for some time. He has, either consciously or unconsciously, forgotten many of the details of his marriage to Mary Lois, including their exact date of marriage (he thinks it was around 1958, "when I was with Lloyd, Ben [Dixon] was the best man"[96]) and her maiden name. The injury took a serious toll on him physically, and he still feels repercussions from the incident to this day.[97]

Playing with Donaldson, Patton quickly earned a reputation as a top-notch organist. One of Patton's early admirers was Don King (THE Don King). On a tour with Donaldson, the group played the Corner Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio, where King heard the group. He attempted to entice Patton away from Donaldson's group and told Patton he would manage him.[98] Patton stayed in Donaldson's group on and off for about two and a half years. Years later, in 1967, his contributions to Donaldson's group and were still talked about when Donaldson's then-current group was reviewed:

He [Lou Donaldson] is backed by Howard Hill on drums, Phillip Floyd on trumpet, and organist Sonny Phillips.

The latter doesn't quite measure up to Donaldson's old organist, Big John Patton, so famous for "Funky Mama." Phillips doesn't push the group with the big organ sound as Big John did. He is more subdued, like a Bill Doggett on background. His solos show a little more aggression, but still lacking the power of Patton.

Too, on "Funky Mama" Phillips is somewhat of a letdown from Patton. But then, it might be unfair to compare and expect him to be a Patton.[99]

Another of Patton's replacements in Donaldson's group was the late organist Billy Gardner. Gardner had gigged and recorded with Patton associate reedman George Braith (Gardner is on all three of Braith's Blue Note recordings). Patton's influence on the sound of the Donaldson band can be heard in the difference in sound used by Gardner in his recordings with Braith as compared to the ones with Donaldson. Gardner's sound on Donaldson's Musty Rusty and Lou Donaldson At His Best is very close to Patton's. Patton recalls of Gardner, laughing (only) half-jokingly, "Billy was impossible, man! Whenever you'd go sit in he would push in all of the stops [on the organ], so you'd have to start out from the beginning to get a sound… so you wouldn't usually get your own sound."[100] At another time Patton mentioned, "You know, for him to do something like's really kind of strange. You'd think he would have been supportive."[101] Patton would fill in for Gardner in Braith's group when Gardner was unavailable and continued to rehearse with Braith after their initial recording sessions in the summer of 1963.

Patton returned to the recording scene on January 24, 1963 to record Lou Donaldson's "Good Gracious" (Blue Note 4125). Donaldson aptly named the opening track on the record "Bad John," a cooking blues, after his recently recovered friend, who showed no signs of having been slowed down by anything, let alone a bullet by his spine. After that, Patton found himself busy on numerous studio dates, typically surrounded by his bandmates from the Donaldson band, Grant Green and Ben Dixon. The trio would take part in eight sessions together in 1963 alone, and there was another Donaldson session involving Patton and Dixon without Green. [102] Aside from being the main core of Donaldson's gigging band (though Green often led his own trio, worked with Gloria Coleman, and according to Ben Dixon, Jack McDuff), the trio of Patton-Green-Dixon would also work as a unit in person, and when in New York, played at the aforementioned Branker's, as well as Minton's, Count Basie's, The Five Spot, The Central Annex, Club Baron, the Savoy Manor, the Sea Breeze, Wells' Restaurant and Music Bar ("The Famous Home of Chicken and Waffles"), The Blue Coronet in Brooklyn, and the Purple Room, among others. The trio also toured, a few of the places that Patton recalled were Hurricane's and Crawford's Grill in Pittsburgh, "all of the clubs in Rochester," Bonton's in Buffalo, the Cadillac Club and the Front Room in Newark. "We played a whole lot of clubs...whoooh-boy…it's not easy. I'm telling you. Drive, load, book…"[103]

Ben Dixon recalls of his involvement in the trio, "I know one thing. I know wherever we went we burnt the place up. We burned it up. Oh, man we had some arrangements...we were really, really tight. We were like three in one. We were like three of the same thing, you know? ...Yeah, because we had a lot of nice little arrangements. One arrangement I really remember was, we used to play 'I Want To Hold Your Hand.' Shoot, the club would get quiet when we would play that, because dynamically we would bring it way down. It was a real, real, quiet, slick, bossa nova." Green ended up recording the tune on March 31, 1965, "But I [Ben Dixon] think he didn't record it with our group [He did not, the group is with Larry Young, Hank Mobley, and Elvin Jones]. We had a better thing than that!" When asked if the band rehearsed much, Dixon answered, "Oh yeah...John lived over on 400 Herkimer. He had his organ right in his apartment, you know. So you know, we'd get together, we'd go over things. John stayed in Brooklyn and Grant was uptown, we'd get together, go over stuff. We'd talk stuff over on the phone. We were all together every day. All three lived in different places, bu it was like all three lived together, you know. I was staying in Brooklyn...and any ideas we had on improving something, we'd jump on the phone, we'd jump on the phone, you know, and boom, boom, it out...then, we'd go to the gig and work stuff out. So we were really, really tight, you know. We were ready for Freddie, you know. We could knock off anybody...we were ready to knock off anybody. We'd have it so hot on the bandstand, I mean, you know, shoot...smoke'd be coming up out of the floor. It would be hot up in there."[104]

Having steady gigs at certain clubs in New York, like Patton's stay at Branker's in 1963 meant that, at times, he would have to hustle to find replacements to cover for him while he was on the road. He had had plenty of experience of doing that type of work while he was straw boss for Lloyd Price. Sometimes, the results were unexpected, as Patton recalled, "Sun Ra took my place a couple of TIMES style="mso-spacerun: yes" Branker?s. I was playing there with Calvin Newborn was a drummer from St. Louis. Chauncey Williams[105]...He was a very good friend of Grant's and Chauncey used to play at Branker's. I think I was going out on the road with Lou and they needed an organist...Somebody told me to call Sun Ra. I called Sun Ra, and man, when I came back they told me, 'Don't EVER do that again! [laughing]'"[106]

The whole trio of Green, Patton, and Dixon would not always tour with the Donaldson band. Green often stayed behind to freelance or lead his own groups in New York, while Patton and Dixon would hit the road with Donaldson. An advertisement from the April 6, 1963 Chicago Defender tells of a double bill played by the Donaldson band with the Sonny Stitt band on Easter Sunday, April 12, 1963, at El Sid's Trianon Ballroom in Chicago is a gig that according to Patton, neither Green nor Dixon is on. John Patton's wife, Thelma, always says when Sonny Stitt is mentioned, "Sonny loved John." Though Patton never recorded with Stitt, they would gig together in New York on and off in the 1970's. The band hit the road almost immediately after Patton's first session as leader which took place April 5, 1963, playing several one-nighters on the way to Chicago. At the time of the gig in Chicago, Stitt had been touring with organist Don Patterson, who Patton became friends with and exchanged ideas with. Of Patterson, Patton said, "Me and Don hung out…I loved Don. Play…could he PLAY!"[107] The advertisement for the gig would lead one to believe that Stitt also brought a band in. Patton remembers differently, "Stitt came as a single. It would work out that we [Donaldson's group] and then, the featured artist, which was Sonny, we'd call him up to play with the group, our group, you know. After Sonny played, we took intermission...we would open up again. Both of them would come up one the bandstand at the same time, I mean right after Lou opened up the second time. I remember Stitt played his ass off. He was SMOKIN', man. Lou was smokin', too. There wasn't a rivalry, one played tenor, one played alto. Someone would call a tune, they'd just start playing and they both smoked on it. It was so beautiful, man. I got a lot out of that."[108]

Lou Donaldson's January 24, 1963 session (Good Gracious, Blue Note 84125) would be the last for Blue Note issued at the time of recording until 1967's Alligator Boogaloo (Man With A Horn, recorded on June 7, 1963 but not issued until October, 1999, was actually Donaldson's last session for Blue Note at the time). Patton and Dixon would appear on Donaldson's first two records for Argo, Signifyin' (Argo 724), and Possum Head (Argo 734) and continued to tour with him on and off. Though recorded for a different label, the sound of the records is unmistakably similar to Donaldson's earlier efforts with Patton and Dixon for Blue Note. The title track to Signifyin', written by Donaldson, seems to be attempting to rekindle the success he had had the previous year with Patton's "Funky Mama," and the bossa "Si Si Safronia," also by Donaldson, bears an uncanny resemblance to Donaldson's "Caracas," from "Good Gracious." The similarities don't end there, "I Can Feel It In My Bones," is a Donaldson waltz from Signifyin' which has a direct relationship to Donaldson's own ¾ "The Holy Ghost" from Good Gracious. There is also a ballad standard and at least one cooking blues on each record. Man With A Horn, recorded in between the two, followed the same pattern. Patton remembers that the band's live sets followed the same format as these records.[109] Two of the tunes from the June 7, 1963 session, Donaldson's "Hippity Hop," and a bossa version of the standard "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," were eventually recorded for Cadet in 1965 (Billy Gardner plays organ on this session), as they had not been issued by Blue Note at the time. It should be noted that the record they are on, Donaldson's Musty Rusty (Cadet 575) also follows the same lay out as the previous records.

Donaldson's band was also touring the entire country at that time. Ben Dixon recalls of the tours with Donaldson: "At that time, Lou had a brand new baby blue station wagon.It was just four of us [Donaldson, Dixon, Patton, and trumpeter Bill Hardman]. Grant was still working with McDuff. We were a hit...We were a big hit, because everywhere we went, we had to stay a month. Of course, John's tune 'Funky Mama,' that was a big hit...another big hit was...Lou did a recording of 'Time After Time.' That was a big hit. And when we used to play that, dynamically, we used to kill 'em. Lou would play the first chorus and the second chorus. John would open up the organ and shout. It would be very bombastic with him and myself and then when we got back to the last eight, we'd bring it all the way back down. And especially in Oklahoma City, they flashed the lights off and on and we'd play it one time and we'd have to play it again. We would go like to Atlanta, Georgia. We'd have to go there every holiday...They didn't want to let us leave Ohio State University. They wanted to keep us there. We went to Denver, where we played in Wilt's Club, Basin Street West. That was a month. We went to the It Club in California, we stayed there a month. Oklahoma City, we stayed there a month. Houston, Texas, we stayed there a month. Then we worked out of Houston into Fort Worth and Port Arthur [Texas, a beach town] and other places around. We left here...worked our way over to Chicago, and then down to East St. Louis, Illinois. We just went across the country over into California. On our way back from California we had We stopped and people found out we were in town they set up a dance for that night. We were just passing through, stopped to get something to eat. And a funny thing, we played in this long hall that didn't have any windows in it. And you know, in Arizona you get those windstorms, right? So the wind would blow dust inside the club. And it was like, all indians. And every tune we played on, they would be dancing. And we got a big cloud of dust up in there [laughing] and you couldn't hardly see the people on the dancefloor!...I remember we went to Texas in the panhandle. I didn't even know it snowed in Texas and we got stopped out there on the highway. The snow was so high, that we couldn't even see the other side of the highway. You know, it was like all over the place...the road would be straight, but the pathway in the road would be winding because the snow was so high. So we sat out there on the highway, man. We fell asleep for about two hours. Woke up freezing. Somehow, we were down around Albuquerque, New Mexico somewhere and we...sometimes we would travel at night, because it was easier travelling at night...Anyhow, we were going up this road and the cop stopped us. Lou said. 'What's wrong?' He said, 'I can't let you go.' He [Lou] says, 'Why?' 'Because you'll be frozen to death by the morning.' And so what happened...we had to check into some cabins that had NO heat in them. And I remember I slept in all of my clothes. Hat, gloves, scarf, overcoat, everything, shoes...right in the bed, man and woke up the next morning, you understand and went somewhere and got some food and they had pictures in the paper of the cattle that had frozen overnight. It was really cold. I didn't even know that it got cold like that down there."[110] "We did quite a bit of touring. I [John Patton] was in Denver when Kennedy got killed, that was '63. We were dead looking at the television, man, we could not believe that had happened."[111]

"When we weren't on a tour, we stayed pretty busy. We got some local engagements, that was pretty cool. We'd work three or four nights a week.You'd work your buns off. You'd go in at 9 o'clock, 9:30, and work 'til 3:30, 4 o'clock in the morning. Well, hey--you worked for sure. The money wasn't all that great, you put in a lot of time. And if you had a matinee, you had to get up and do the matinee on a Sunday, you did it early and you played that night, too. Oh, I enjoyed playing. In fact, at that particular time was not...really thinking about the money per se... 'oh, man, this ain't enough money.' I was just really thrilled to be working, man, especially with Lou and all of the musicians who would come and sit in and play. "[112] The group would play 4 or 5 sets a night and typically split $400-$500 between them.

Playing local gigs could also have its pitfalls, "I remember distinctly Grant and myself and was just a trio. We were playing a club called the Blue something. It wasn't the Blue Coronet, we'd played the Blue Coronet before. But anyway, we played a club in Brooklyn called the Blue something and this particular time, it was aWednesday or a Thursday, they came and stuck the place up. We were there...oh, man...that club, they had tried to rob that club before, you know. This time, unfortunately, we were there. Oh, man, they came in and told everybody to lay down on the floor and take their money out. It was a couple of cats, they had stockings on their faces and all of that kind of stuff. I happened to be sitting...there was a little tier that you walked up [to get to the bandstand] and I just happened to be sitting there, I think it was intermission time. And they were robbing, telling everybody to 'shut up!' and 'sit down!' and 'give me your money!' I proceeded to lay down on the floor, and in the time I was laying down I took my identification and my wallet out and threw it all on the floor and put it somewhere where they wouldn't get to it. ...The club owner was West Indian, and he was really upset. First, he didn't want to give the money up. But they made him, dig? The said, 'Oh, I know you've got more than that that's in the cash register. Get to where you've got the rest of the money stashed,' And he came up with something...enough to satisfy them...after that, the cops came in and investigated and I think they got away. It was kind of frightening to me, very much so. [pausing to think] Did we play after that? I think we did try to play. I don't think we played more than one set and then he closed up."[113] Patton also recalled the riots in Brooklyn after Malcolm X was shot, "I was in Brooklyn. I lived at 400 Herkimer, the Herkimer Gardens, right by the Blue Coronet. I was in the riots and bullets were whistlin' around the corner. Yeah, man! There were riots not far from the Audubon Ballroom, around that area. Shoot, yeah. They were really upset there."[114]

Lou Donaldson's leaving Blue Note in 1963 had no negative effect on Patton's career. 1963 was his busiest year in terms of recording, going into the studio twelve times, including his first session as leader, Along Came John, on April 5, 1963. "I remember I was kind of jittery and playing with the big dogs, Grant and them [see discography]." It had worked out that Patton was surrounded by friends as sidemen on his first leader session, though Alfred Lion was ultimately in charge of who ended up on different sessions (and as we will see, last minute changes would occur before sessions). Patton would try and work it out that way whenever possible, and as much as he could given his position, "Especially with the musicians who I had played with, if they were qualified...which they were. Then we'd go to the studio.I had played 'Funky Mama' and different tunes that I wrote, we'd had a chance to play on wasn't like they [the other musicians] were nervous, it was like ice cream and cake to them. [THEY'D style="mso-spacerun: yes" chorus. I'd get the evil eye, 'Open it up!' on those types of things. I'd go, 'Oh, man...I didn't like the way I played on that!' [They would answer] 'Next tune!'...Yes, man...whoo...I was excited about the tunes. I thought they were really hittin'! I had a ball. Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff were there. Frank would be there taking pictures. Alfred was in the recording booth, he'd come out sometimes...moving around. But he didn't have no rhythm, he'd be jumping around patting his feet, he couldn't even hit one and three. [laughing] ...and Duke Pearson, I think he was there."[115]

In preparation for a date in the studio, "Well to start out with, we'd start out with the tunes. We'd rehearse the tunes. We'd have maybe one or two days rehearsing before we'd go to the studio. They [Lion and Wolff] would rent out rehearsal halls. Say the session was on a Thursday, we'd go in on Monday and Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday, if we needed it."[116] As far as what musicians would be on the date, "Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff would bring in musicians they thought would jell together for the concept of the record. Sometimes they'd bring in the working bands [who gigged together], other times they'd get the band together they had in mind on rehearsals a few days before the session. Joe Henderson was supposed to be on The Way I Feel, but he [Alfred Lion] wanted somebody in there who was, I don't want to say, 'gut-bucket'...he wanted somebody in there and dig down into the essence of the tune. So, at one of the rehearsals, after hearing what was happening [with the music], he decided to bring in Fred [Jackson]."[117][118] The musicians were paid fifteen dollars an hour for their rehearsal sessions, which, "wasn't bad money at the time."[119] Blue Note's policy on paid rehearsals changed later on in the 1960's.

Of the money for making the records Patton said, "Blue Note wasn't paying that much money anyway. You got leaders' fee if it was your date. The standard say...for a leader, the leader got double what the sideman would get. Say the sideman would get for date, 6 tunes, $600 or $700. You know, as leader you would get double that. Plus, you'd get paid for rehearsals. It depended on what kind of deal you made. If you were in demand as a musician, you would get more so than other musicians. Everyone was paid a little different. Some musicians made more than other musicians. [Like] for Oh Baby! I got paid for arrangements...they'd pay you $30, $40, $50 for each arrangement...I got paid for rehearsals...and for being the leader."[120] In the end, the sum added up to about $1500. "You know, you could get a little advance money, but it would be against royalties...what they paid per record...whooo---nothing. And whatever original tunes you would write and they would record...they would take half of that [it was their publishing company]. Until you knew what was happening in the business world, it's very tough. Ask me, I know. So I finally got a chance to get into publishing. They [Blue Note] did not really want you to get into that. When you start becoming your own publisher, money comes to you. It was more or less for you to get known on the label more so than [to] get paid."[121] Guitarist Jimmy Ponder remembered getting paid $500 in 1968 for his involvement as a sideman on Patton's That Certain Feeling.

Once at the studio, typically Rudy Van Gelder's in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, "We'd get to the studio early, maybe 1 p. m. [early for musicians who sometimes played until 4 a.m. the previous night as was common for Patton at that time]. We'd be there from like 1 to 5 or 6. We'd run the tunes a couple of times and when we got there and we'd hit. If it wasn't coming together in the first couple of takes, Alfred would come out waving his arms to stop us, and we'd go on to the next tune and come back to it later. We'd usually do three tunes and then take a break. There was always lots of food around, sandwiches, and Alfred would always bring beer. Then we'd go on to the next three tunes. It was usually six tunes for an album, unless one of the tunes got extended, then we'd only do five. Other than the little bit of beer Alfred would bring, there wouldn't be no drinking, or smoking reefer, or anything like that going down. We were completely sober most of the time at the studio."[122]

By the time of his first record, Patton had acquired his nickname, "Big John." He told the Chicago New City newspaper (Chicago's equivalent to the Village Voice), "Well my weight fluctuated for a while and at one point, my thighs were rubbing together. And when that starts, brother, you know the deal, doncha?-Back up! But it was really a commercial tag that Blue Note hung on me."

Patton's second session as leader, Blue John, was recorded on July 11 and August 2, 1963. Blue John was not released at the time of recording, and would not be released until 1986; this would not be the last time this sort of thing happened to Patton. Blue John did become a sort of legendary record, as Terry Martin described in his 1986 liner notes for the record: "The dedicated Blue Note collector will recognize Blue John as one of thse fabled albums visualized tantalizingly on the jackets of issued LPs of the early sixties but which never achieved record store reality. Blue John approached substance to the point where Duke Pearson assumed its existence and discussed some details of the mirage in his notes to Big John Patton's third completed album The Way I Feel (BST 84174)." Indeed, the record was even given an issue number, 4143, and even had the cover art completed. Patton did not know why it was unissued at the time, but like many labels, Blue Note had a considerable number of sessions which have remained in the vaults. The fact that everything was complete for the record does make it an unusual case, however.

One of Patton's early sessions as a sideman was on Harold Vick's first session as leader, titled Steppin' Out, recorded May 16, 1963 for Blue Note. The opening track is titled "Our Miss Brooks." In running the tunes down and explaining their content the liner notes say of "Our Miss Brooks" that it is, "a title Vick is reluctant to explain." The tune itself already had a bit of a history, having been recorded on March 15, 1961 on a date led by drummer Dave Bailey for the Jazztime (with Grant Green and the aforementioned Billy Gardner on piano) and by Jack McDuff on January 8, 1963, with Vick himself present (McDuff's Somethin' Slick, Prestige 7256). McDuff would record it again in 1965 as a feature for guitarist George Benson on his own record titled, coincidentally, Steppin' Out (Prestige 7666). The young lady in question was Miss Ellen Brooks. "He named it 'Our Miss Brooks' because of his girl, which was Ellen. They met each other during the time she as going to Hampton [Institute, a black college in Virginia] and Harold was at Howard. And they came together some kind of way through McDuff."[123] The reason that Vick was perhaps reluctant to speak of the title was that Miss Brooks had been his girlfriend, but was no longer going with him. She had instead turned her attention to John Patton.

"She [Ellen Brooks] said I met her when I was working with Lloyd Price, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We [the Price band] came through there. At that particular time, I was the pianist. Sometimes, I'd sit down, but most of the time, I was standing up playing and directing the band. And she remembered me, I didn't quite remember her. But we came together some kind of way. [imitating her] 'Oh, John...don't you remember?' I don't really remember. Where I really remember that we cam together again was when I was working at Minton's Playhouse. I was working with Lou there and she came in."[124] Ellen Brooks was not the same woman who had scuffled with Patton's wife, Mary Lois, at Minton's in the summer of 1962. "That's a different woman. This was after...what happened with me and Mary Lois. I used to go back and forth and see her [Ellen Brooks]...finally, we got together and decided to get married. I thought it was a little fast. She was from Fayetteville, North Carolina. I got married in Fayetteville. I flew from Los Angeles to Fayetteville, and then I flew back to Los Angeles and continued working at a club called...John T.' was on LaBrea Avenue. During the time I was out there I did a record date [according to Ben Dixon, the engagement was at the It Club, until an ad is found, this will remain unconfirmed]."[125] The record date was Donaldson's Possum Head (Argo 334), recorded on January 28, 1964, and the marriage had been the previous week. On the liner notes to his Oh Baby in 1965, Patton "describes his wife as a fine pianist and artist whose talents are very much 'together.' His bubbling enthusiasm for her is due, he says, to her inspiration and understanding."[126] They were married for eleven years, and Patton's only offspring, John, Jr., who was born in 1969, came about from this marriage.

This did not keep Patton and Vick from collaborating in the studio or the bandstand, however, as they continued to gig and record together for several years, though some of their efforts remain unissued (see discography). Vick gigged with the group during a stint at Count Basie's in 1965 and, "We did some tours in New Jersey. I remember one gig we went to, we all piled in the car...Ben and his wife, my wife, Harold...that was the time they put the window down on me, I think I was sitting in the back and I ended up with a terrible cold, man. I won't forget that one. We did the gig but later on, I got sick for that air hitting me. I had a great time with Harold, Harold could play his buns off."[127] The group seems to have played regularly as tunes developed on the bandstand. Patton explains in the liner notes to Oh Baby! of Vick's tune "Night Flight," "...when played on dates, we get a good feeling. You might call this a burner. It became part of our book when we first appeared at Count Basie's. It started out as a bit, and through constant playing, it developed and became a complete composition." Patton and Vick remained friends, "He [Vick] was cool with that [Patton's marriage to Ellen Brooks].<> >We never did confront each other with nothing like that. Everybody knew that that was his girl, Ellen was his girl, you know...way before I was even involved...I don't know if he got married ...but I know Harold had several girls. Harold was kind of a ladies' man. I think he hooked up with Shirley Scott, too. I think they lived together."[128]

Over a year later, a listing from Baltimore's Left Bank Jazz Society's Chronological Concert Listings for a gig at the Crystal Ballroom in Baltimore on July 31, 1966 with Patton, Grant Green, Vick, and drummer Hugh Walker. At this point, Patton was still co-leading his group with Grant Green, usually a trio, though sometimes augmenting to a quartet. Ads from the Village Voice confirm they played regularly at Slug's Saloon in the East Village in 1966 and 1967, using different drummers at different times, including Walker, the late Otis "Candy" Finch, and Clifford Jarvis. Walker, a native of Oklahoma, had entered Patton's circle of musicians as a member of George Braith's band in 1963.[129] He would figure prominently in Patton's activities upon his dissolution of his long musical relationship with Grant Green in 1968.

There were several drummers who had preceeded Walker in the Patton-Green group after Ben Dixon quit working with the group regularly in 1965. "I got with Candy Finch when me and Grant started really touring, going up to Buffalo and Rochester and some different clubs on 125th St. We worked all around. We worked locally quite a bit. Candy and Grant were good we decided to take Candy on the road with us when we were doing tours."[130] The late Otis "Candy" Finch recorded one session with the group in December of 1965, Patton's Let 'Em Roll. Finch recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and Shirley Scott, among others. "This was after Clifford Jarvis. Clifford Jarvis was with me and Grant. Something happened with Clifford, I think he went back to Sun Ra." The Patton-Green group used several drummers, "whoever could make the gig," so to speak, including Grassella Oliphant, who enlisted Green's and Patton's services for his second album as leader The Grass Is Greener (Atlantic1484) in 1966.

In terms of taking care of business on those tours, "I was doing the booking. I had a list of clubs that we played and I continued to stay in touch with the club owners...I would get a date where we would go back in a certain length of time. You know, I just stayed on top of it...the different clubs that we played at so we would have a chance to go back and keep working."[131] His savvy from his straw boss experience in the Price band came in handy in this respect also. Of the financial situation from touring, "Sometimes we got food, free room and board. But if we didn't have free room and board it would come out that if we would have stayed in town, we would have come out a little better or even, you know. You know, being on the road, you like to get the money that their paying to involve room and board. Yeah, man. We made money. I had to file for income tax quarterly, instead of waiting a whole year. I had an accountant...he told me it would be better to file quarterly, and that way they [the IRS] wouldn't hold so much money. We did pretty good."[132]

Though Patton would never record as prolifically again as he did in 1963, he would make several trips to the studio every year from 1963 through 1966. On March 1, 1966 he and Green were so in demand that they recorded two records in one day, Grassella Oliphant's Grass Is Greener for Atlantic Records and George Braith's Laughing Soul for Prestige. Patton did not remember which session came first, but did recall that in preparation for them, "We had rehearsals, you know. Grassella had played with me and Grant before, and with Braith, we played several gigs together, but it was not like I was his regular organist. We did do a lot of rehearsals together...George wrote a lot of tunes, some which we'd really have to work out because they brought in a whole other thing."[133] Indeed, Braith wrote several intricate tunes which departed from what was typically found in the organ jazz genre, with unusual changes (notably "Outside Around the Corner" from Soul Stream, and "Nut City," "Out Here," and "Extension," all from Extension), which he recorded for Blue Note with organist Billy Gardner. Patton recalled playing some of the tunes live and "really having to concentrate to get to some of those... 'squirrely' changes." Some of the tunes recorded at the Braith session are probably among the tunes Patton rehearsed with Braith and played live when the occasion arose; Braith's "Hot Sauce" which lay in Blue Notes tape vaults as part of the Blue John session, Ben Dixon's 3/4 "Chunky Cheeks," which was also recorded at the Blue John session, but has remained unreleased by Blue Note.

Presumably, Ben Dixon's boogaloo "Cantaloupe Woman," was also part of the Green-Patton group's live repertory, as it was recorded at both of the sessions the two took part in that day, and recorded twice by Green (without Patton) in 1965 and 1971. Two other tunes which were part of the live repertory, "The Yodel" and "Soul Woman," were collaborations between Patton and Green were recorded at the Oliphant session. They emerged four weeks later on Patton's own Got A Good Thing Goin' session on March 29. In comparing the performances Patton said, "I remember getting to the tunes a little better on my date." Indeed, Patton certainly sounds more comfortable on "Soul Woman" from his own date than the Oliphant date. There is some uneasiness with the form in the version with Oliphant, with Patton and Green ending up on opposite ends of a I to IV change at different points in the performance. This discrepancy is subtle enough that it can easily go unperceived, and to my ears, does not really detract from the performance. Oliphant plays a fast, busy, New Orleans-style second-line beat which really pushes the tune. The other version, recorded with drummer Hugh Walker and percussionist Richard "Pablo" Landrum, has more of a bossa/latin feel that leaves the groove much less cluttered and leaves the soloists with more flexibility in their phrasing. Patton's (and Green's)[134] lines are given room to float in the groove, as opposed to having to continually acknowledged the beat of the second-line groove. It is also clear that in the intervening weeks between the sessions, the arrangement of the tune was solidified and further tightened up in the rehearsals held by Blue Note for the session.

It is also interesting to note the difference in sound Patton has from one session to the next on that day. There is a bassist present on both sessions (see discography) so that is not a mitigating factor. The Oliphant session presents Patton's usual sound that is found on most of the sessions for Blue Note, except the June 7, 1963 Lou Donaldson session when he "was just trying out something different." He recalled producer Arif Mardin, "...just loved my sound." Del Shields pointed out in his liner notes to The Grass Is Greener, that Patton's sound, " has none of the distorted sounds that some organists seem to use when their creative well runs dry." The sound on Braith's record is decidedly different, leaning towards more of a "pop" sound unlike any ever used by Patton before or since. This is, presumably, the doing of the producer on the session, Cal Lampley, who was perhaps trying to satisfy the concept of the title of the record, which was to be titled Laughing Soul.[135] This difference in sound noticably changes the character of Patton's playing, though the actual notes and licks used are well within Patton's personal vernacular. The sound difference is even more striking when compared to his brooding sound on the introduction of the March 29, 1966 recording of "Soul Woman."

Got A Good Thing Goin' would be Patton's last trip to the studio in 1966 and except for a Grant Green trio session for Cobblestone, which may or may not be, from 1967, he would not record again until March 8, 1968. In that time, Patton began to apply some new musical ideas. One of these was a more open sounding groove, and Patton would begin to explore this in earnest in his recordings in 1968. As Patton himself noted, "There was something I wanted to capture in hearing Elvin [Jones] play... It was just another level that I wanted to try to get to. I had this concept of wanting to play freer, man, you know."[136] The seeds of wanting to play freer can be seen in the different arrangements of "Soul Woman," recorded only four weeks apart. The difference is really notable, however, when one considers Patton's next record, That Certain Feeling, which takes the idea of playing freer one step further with drummer Clifford Jarvis, who infuses an unusual openness to what otherwise would be otherwise straight-up groove tunes like Patton's "Dirty Fingers," "Minor Swing," "String Bean" and saxophonist Jimmy Watson's "Daddy James." Patton's compositions also reflect an interest in getting, if not "freer" in terms of playing "out", certainly "looser" in the sense of not having many turnarounds or chord changes per se, or relying on some of the tried and true rhythm-and-blues ideas that were characteristic of much of his work before That Certain Feeling. Patton's other compositions from the record, "I Want To Go Home," "Early A. M.," and "Minor Swing," exemplify this. Their simple themes are brief and to the point. Patton's comping is replete with voicings in fourths, supplying riffs in the modes of the tunes harmonized in these fourth as launching points for all of the solos, only resorting to the more conventional triad voicings towards the end of the solos, to bring them back in and allow himself to start the process again. As Lewis Porter has stated, "Whereas triads have a certain earthy familiarity, fourth chords are abstract. Perhaps because they avoid the familiar ring of popular songs."[137] Patton's solos also reflect this more open sound, using short phrases motivically to construct the basis of his solos and patterns based on fourth intervals. The solos still use the bluesy elements that had given (and still give) Patton's playing its flavor up to that point. Often, these ideas are used towards the ends of the solos to ground himself again, and similar to the way he was accompanying the other soloists in his band; first in open sounding fourths, then in triads. There is concsious application of new ideas that were not used before, like greater reliance on the diminished scale, use of shorter phrases, and fourths. That Certain Feeling marked a turning point in Patton's career, which was, as we shall see, not only musical.

Some of the looseness on That Certain Feeling may also attributed to the fact the musicians were unfamiliar with the material as well as with each other. As Jimmy Ponder, the guitarist on the session, recalls, "The producer, Frank Wolff, had heard me play and invited me to do my thing with Blue Note. We took it from the top. No rehearsal. Worked it out in the studio. I might have run into him [Patton], or he might have heard me play over in Newark, but I'm pretty sure the first time I met him was that day. We had never worked together. It wasn't until the mid-80's that he and I did some extensive work, southern Jersey, Plainfield. The reason he was on some of my records was that we had a working trio, Eddie Gladden, and Patton and myself."[138]

In 1967, Patton began a six-year association with the Nation of Islam, taking the name Ya Ya, though he never used it professionally.[139] His good friend and band-mate, Grant Green, had been a Muslim since the mid-1950's and had been a founding member of his native St. Louis' chapter of the Nation of Islam.[140] [141] Ben Dixon, who had been a close associate of Patton's and Green's, also became a Muslim in 1967, though not at the same time as Patton. He later went on to become a minister in the Nation of Islam.[142] Patton's recollections of his association with Islam bring out mixed emotions. "Some people needed it more than others. You know, no drinking, no smoking, no fornication. It was very strict, you weren't supposed to associate with people who did, or the white man...there was a lot of hate spoken in the Nation [of Islam] at that time. But, you know, reading the Koran and those things, that brought out another side."[143] Some of the things asked of the Muslim musicians, given their profession and their workplace, were impossible to fulfill. Not being around alcohol or associating with people who indulged in it was but one of many. "They [the Nation of Islam] didn't want you talking to people in between sets...just go back to the dressing room and keep to yourself."[144] Those who broke their vows were called "kufas,"[145] and were often chastised by fellow Muslim musicians, or other members of the Nation who witnessed their behavior. The side of the music business of the musician having to sell himself as a person, as well as a performer, became very difficult at this time for Patton and other Muslim musicians. The balancing of religious ideals and the practical reality of survival as a performer were very difficult to consolidate. Working for white club owners, for example, was a frowned-upon, but inevitable reality of the music business. Patton recalls that some black musicians, Muslim or not, including his former associate, George Braith, would refuse to play in clubs owned by whites.[146] Furthermore, many of the Muslim musicians were very outspoken, and often antagonized club owners and record companies preaching their message. This led to much discrimination against Muslim musicians, as many developed a reputation for being trouble-makers, and as a result, fewer gigs were given to openly Muslim musicians. Of that, Patton commented, " Once you put a label on yourself, you had to know what you were doing."[147] The members also had an obligation to give 10% of their income to the Nation, as well as serious time commitment to meetings and selling the Nation's newsletters.

The inclusion of a white model on the cover of Patton's record, That Certain Feeling, (Blue Note 84281, 1968) was directly at odds with Patton's Muslim beliefs at the time. Blue Note, no longer a small company, but now a subsidiary of Liberty Records, was not sympathetic to Patton's own feelings or beliefs about the matter and went ahead with the cover. Before Lion and Wolff's sale of Blue Note to Liberty, Patton would have a say in the final look of his album covers. The ensuing argument between Patton and Blue Note was heated, and was, presumably, a contributing factor to Patton only getting one more of his sessions, Accent on the Blues (Blue Note 84340, 1969) released by Blue Note at that time. There were three others, recorded after the disagreement, between August of 1968 and October of 1970, that remained unissued until the mid-1990's.[148] Patton's previous record, Got A Good Thing Goin' (Blue Note 4229), had also had a white woman on the cover. At the time, however, it had not been an issue for him, as he was not yet a Muslim and the feelings about it were not as strong as they would become. There would be a lingering bitterness tied to this situation for many years to come, contributing to eventually getting Patton out of the music scene altogether for a stretch in the 1970's.

1968 also marked Patton's dissolution of his longstanding, on-going, partnership with Grant Green. It was clear that musically, the partnership was heading in different directions. Of playing some of the same material, like "Funky Mama," that he had been playing for years with Donaldson and Green, Patton said, "You get tired of it and you just want to move on. I can remember a lot of things me and Grant would get into, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,' things like that that would hold people in the club, you know. And I would say, 'Come on, Grant, let's play something a little...freer.' He was a little hesitant, 'No, man, we've got to play this so we can get back in this club.' Because the club owners have to pay...they're gonna pay you. If you play something so way out, you're gonna run everybody out. [The audience would say,] 'They're playing too way out, we don't understand that.' And the same thing with Lou...we'd have to do things like... 'Time After Time.' You know how old that tune is, he had a little hit going on with that. We'd have to do things like that, or I'd do things like 'Funky Mama,' stick a matchcover [in between the keys] to hold a note and walk away. You know, they just loved that, or we'd shuffle all night long, playing the blues. Those are the things, the tunes and the sound that people wanted to hear in those clubs. They didn't want to hear you playing no 'Trane...but I wanted to play 'Trane."[149] This sort of attitude from the audience would have its effect on Patton's trio in 1968.

Patton felt that there were certain expectations placed on the way organ players were supposed to sound, Larry Young notwithstanding. Of Young, Patton commented, "I guess it depends on how you establish yourself. You know Larry, Larry was playing that way before I was. I was listening to Larry, some of the things he was playing were phenomenal, man." Indeed, Young had not come up through the same ranks as Patton as a sideman with an established player like Donaldson. As a result, Young did not deal with all of the things attached to being associated with an established player, including the stylistic expectations. Young, though he had recorded more "conventional" sounding records earlier in his career for New Jazz, really established his reputation for his work as a leader on Blue Note. Young shattered many of the stylistic expectations for the organ in general on his records, and Patton recalls, "Larry always had a place to do something like that [play more extended ideas], because his father had a club...on Avon Ave. in Newark."[150]

Another influence on Patton was drummer Jack DeJohnette. When DeJohnette first relocated to New York from Chicago, Patton remembered, "He stayed in Brooklyn with me a long time, seven months. We shedded together on the piano there. Jack had a very good concept of the piano...he could play some stuff on the piano. Of course, you know he's a hell of a drummer. He was kind of phenomenal all around...unbelievable, man." DeJohnette had had all sorts of musical experiences at that point, from blues to free jazz to his training at American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Patton is always quick to credit him in helping to open him up musically. DeJohnette, aside from his involvement in the Charles Lloyd quartet, also played some of his early gigs in and around New York with Patton in 1966. Patton remembered, "We used to go up to Connecticut and play different clubs in Connecticut...we'd play a lot bebop things, 'Scrapple From The Apple,' stuff like that. [humming head at about 240 bpm] You know what I mean? We played, man...Jack can play. Whooo!"[151]

Before parting musical ways with Grant Green, Patton was introduced to a young saxophone player from Charlotte, North Carolina named Harold Alexander (b. February 24, 1943). Alexander's nickname is "Jazzbo," and that is what Patton always calls him to differentiate him with Harold Vick, who he refers to by first name. Alexander had been in New York for several years and had been a student and close friend of the late Eric Dolphy.[152] As John Zorn noted in the liner notes to Patton's Boogaloo, "'ll hear no imitation [of Dolphy] in his soloing on either tenor or flute--he was very much his own man. Before moving to New York, Alexander had done several stretches in rhythm-and-blues groups out of his native North Carolina, notably the beach music group Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, and L. C. Cooke, the late brother of Sam Cooke. He also had an admiration for tenor saxophonists Gene Ammons and Red Prysock, and also studied with Benny Golson.[153] He had been gigging and recording with Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers since 1966. Of the experience with Pucho, Alexander recalled, "It was a job with Pucho. Pucho was a bandleader and it was just another outlet to share and to try to grow. It wasn't the deepest musical experience, but it was a chance to stay in would be like a day job, but I'm still playing music and he provided a working situation." [154] At the time, Alexander was somewhere else musically, " I was into studying the masters...understanding Coltrane and read and study everything I could to develop my gift so I could give the greatest product when I'd record. I was always trying to advance, that's all I was about."[155] Patton was in a similar frame of mind at this point, as he told John Zorn, "I always felt like what I was playing just wasn't hip enough--that I needed to follow through more on the concept. You know, at that time, Wayne (Shorter), Herbie (Hancock), Freddie (Hubbard) and Larry Young were smokin' man, and I felt like they gave me the incentive to keep trying to get to that level. More progressive."[156]

Patton recalls, " I met Jazzbo [Alexander's nickname] at a club I was playing." Ed Williams, who was, according to Alexander was "one of the two main black DJ's in New York at that time [the other was Bill Cosby's cousin, Del Shields]", was the man responsible. He later ended up writing the liner notes to Patton's Understanding (Blue Note 84306), the first record that Patton did with Alexander. Williams and Alexander, "were good friends and he used to bring Jazzbo around to the different clubs. He brought Jazzbo to where I was playing and Jazzbo sat in and played. That's how we hooked up."[157] Of seeing Patton at clubs, Alexander said, "John was a funk master, him and Grant Green...I used to go see them. I might have sat in, I don't remember...but I used to love to hear them play because they had a feeling for the blues like never before...It was like destiny brought me and John together."[158]

"Me and Jazzbo, we used to shed quite a bit together on the piano. Jazzbo was great, he played a hell of a lot of piano...he was crazy about Eric Dolphy, so we got into a lot of things...we got into a lot of Dolphy, we got into a lot of 'Trane, we got into a lot of Miles, we got into all of that. This is when I started getting a little freer. I was inspired a lot through really took me to another level, something I was really trying to get into. It just opened up so many things...I think Eric Dolphy just opened him up. If you ever got a chance to hear Jazzbo play the piano,whatever he couldn't get to...on his sax and flute...he could get to on the piano. And we came up with different things that you hear on some of the albums that we recorded. It was really spontaneous."[159] We shall see how spontaneous a little later.

Of their woodshedding together, Alexander had this to say, "We'd do theory and harmony, different ways to explore. The good thing about me and John, we were always trying to take the music somewhere it had never been before. Ain't that interesting? After we learned how the notes were on paper, we wanted to bring the music alive. Our main thing was to reach people and bring happiness to others from our gift of God. And we were on that level. We respected the theory and all of the learning, because you need to know the mechanics, the technique of the music, but the most important thing is, you have to reach people and try to inspire and uplift others...that's what we were about. That was it! We had a deep spiritual thing, like brothers of the spirit. Like John is family, you know. He became like my real brother, and a true friend. So that's why we could play together like that, because we were true friends and true brothers. We weren't phony, you hear the people say, 'hey, brother,' but it ain't. But me and John meant it. Oh, me and John would get together and it [the music] just happened. You know we acted off of each other's inspiration, because there was an excitement between me and him...and he loved to learn. John inspired me because there was no jealousy...because, some people, you try to share with they get their ego [in the way]. John had no ego. That's hard for a man to say about another man. We had no fights. Ain't that out? It worked out with John because we were straight up and down with each other. Whatever he was doing, he was open and honest with me. That's rare! That's why after all of these years, when we hear about each other, it [their bond] never dies...It done got that deep, man!"[160]

With Alexander came a level of intensity that Patton had not had in any of his previous hornmen. Alexander also provided the "freer" sounds that Patton was wanting to hear in his band. Alexander's approach to playing was quite unusual, and his concept suited the direction Patton wanted to take his music perfectly. He was deeply grounded in the blues, playing as funky and gut-bucket as anybody, but he also would take his solos as far out as they could go, into musical zones that were generally reserved for the likes of Albert Ayler or Pharaoh Sanders. Alexander remembered, "I was always reaching for the abstract, but I needed what John and them had in order to give myself an anchor." Alexander is a deeply spiritual individual, "I was like that from a baby, man. I was always trying to give love, and that's all music is. Music is a message of love to me. It's a gift of love from God, and it's a message that God brings to us." To those who did not know him, however, it would be easy to misconstrue Alexander's message as one of anger, from the raw intensity of some of the solos. Of that Alexander commented, "A musician can barely afford to keep himself together. That's real! I love God more than my own life...and John understood me when very few people did. I'd try to tell them and they'd think I'm nuts, man! That intensity in music is just how much I care. I want to put that vibe through my music. [Also], a lot of it was the conditions you were surrounded by...I was living in Harlem right in the ghet-tow [his pronunciation]...right down at 113th, it was really the rough part. That's the only place I could afford...but the message was the desire to advance, man. The driving force to get past all of the blocks."[161]

So, upon parting musical ways with Green, Patton began working with Alexander in a trio setting without guitar. Patton had worked without guitar on tours with Donaldson, so it was not an entirely new challenge, though the material was generally different, as was the approach to playing the blues. This also, naturally, gave the rhythm section (Patton and whoever the drummer was) more space. The legend of organ trios says that trios without guitar were uncommon. That is not, in fact, the case. Don Patterson recorded several records with Sonny Stitt and Booker Ervin without a guitarist, supported only by Billy James on the drums. Larry Young also made it a habit of his own on records and in person around this time, and there are numerous other examples to be found in discographies and concert reviews from Downbeat and newspapers.

Of his time working gigs with Patton in 1968, Alexander remembered, "It was always a trio, we changed drummers. Sometimes we used George Brown. We used Hugh Walker. George, of course, got the best vibe with the band. Me and John loved him and he could play.They [Brown and Patton] fussed a lot. Scorpio, yeah...George was my friend. Hugh Walker was good, but George...he had that feeling. Man, that cat could play. He never got a chance to be heard."[162] This is not actually true now, but was true at the time the group was together in 1968. On August 9, 1968, Patton's working trio with Brown and Alexander, augmented by two members of Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, trumpeter Vincent McEwan and percussionist Richard "Pablo" Landrum recorded Boogaloo for Blue Note[163]. The session was not released until 1995, and, as mentioned before, Patton believed it was from his disagreement with Blue Note over the cover of the record he had recorded earlier in the year. Again, this would not be the last time it would happen.

The session itself shows some of the shifts in direction that Patton was striving for. Despite its title, Boogaloo is not just a straight up groove record, though Patton always keeps that happening in his music. To be sure, half of the tracks, Patton's "Boogaloo Boogie," "Shoutin' But No Poutin'," and the cover of Robert Parker's 1965 hit "Barefootin,'" are straight up groove tracks, albeit with Alexander's outbursts of freedom. Patton's own approach to these tunes is more fluid, particularly on "Boogaloo Boogie," with unpredictable twists and turns in his solos, and longer phrases, more concerned with modality than with the blues. The blues are, of course, of essence to Patton's soloing vocabulary and seamlessly woven in.

The other half of the record offers up some of the other ideas that Patton was developing. "Milk and Honey," though it is played with chord changes presently, seemingly had none (at least for the solos) at the time of the recording. It is a modal piece in C minor, though it is mistitled "Mode In D Minor" in some discographies. Patton is searching throughout the solo, and the licks that typify his earlier work are not present here. This is not to say there are no statements made in the solo that are drawn from Patton's blues vocabulary. In some sense, Patton sounds so excited and caught up in the moment with the freedom of the piece, that he begins numerous ideas without resolving them. The piece (really, the whole record) also displays "that feeling" that Alexander referred to about George Brown. As John Zorn commented on the liner notes to the record, "Brown's complex polyrhythmic, soloistic style seems a perfect foil for Patton." Indeed, "Milk and Honey" showcases what Zorn calls, "Brown's funky sense of time, tight tuning, and creative, aggressive accompaniment" and shows more than a passive influence of the style of Elvin Jones. His interaction with Patton throughout this piece gives an aural display of what Alexander meant in using a term that can be as elusive as "feeling." Brown, of course, is as funky as anybody on the actual boogaloo oriented tunes on the recorded, though he places more emphasis on his cymbal playing than on the snare pops.

The other two pieces, Patton's "Spirit" and "B and J (Two Sisters)," are distinctive pieces that display a sensibility that organ groups rarely went after at the time or since. "Spirit"

juxtaposes Brown's busy, Elvin Jones-ish cymbal and snare work with Patton's sparse, yet rock solid, bass ostinato; creating what saxophonist Marvin Cabell (who joined Patton in 1969) calls "that floating thing," with "a lot of space."[164] Patton's melody consists of two sections, a call (by the horns and Patton) and response (by Patton alone) followed by a bluesy, tumbling, melody stated by Patton alone until the last two notes, where he is joined by the horns. The way the second part of the melody is written, it is clear that Patton had envisioned precisely this type of a groove for the tune. Alexander's solo is an impassioned statement and a good example of his weaving of inside and outside ideas. Patton's own solo is best described in John Zorn's liner notes, "it is another beautiful example of how John has managed to use...more modern harmonies and textures while still retaining a deep feeling for the blues. He doesn't just 'put on' another style like a fashionable new suit of clothes, he integrates it wholly into his musical vision."

"B and J (Two Sisters)" is a tune in 6/8 where, again, the interaction between Patton's bass line and Brown's drumming are perfectly synergistic and though pushing the tune along, creating a sensation of space[165]. Furthermore, the textures employed by the horns are unusual for an organ group, with Alexander playing the flute and trumpeter Vincent McEwan playing muted trumpet. Again, the vocabulary of licks that Patton had employed on earlier (pre-1968) recordings is notably absent. It is also clear, from his fluidity, that he is more comfortable with some of the soloing ideas he began to use on "Early A. M.," from That Certain Feeling earlier that year. Alexander also displays the lyrical side of his musical persona in his flute playing, a stark contrast to his fierce statements on tenor.

This emphasis on more freedom in his sound did not mean Patton was, by any means, striving to be an avant-garde artist, however. There is still much emphasis on the groove in the music and the importance of the drummer's interaction and support with Patton was even more crucial in the trio setting without guitar. Alexander recalled a gig without Brown or their other usual drummer, Hugh Walker, "One time we used Norman Connors. John didn't like him, the way he played. Man, that cat played wide open drums. I told him, 'He's only doing the best he can.' He didn't play the funk the way John felt it. John needed that support and Norman couldn't give him what he needed. He just wasn't the right drummer. He's a good drummer, but he didn't fit what John wanted to do."[166] Connors, just 21 years old at the time, had done his first recording as a sideman the year before. The session was Archie Shepp's Magic of Ju-Ju on Impulse. He would continue his association with more avant-garde type artists for years to come, recording with Pharaoh Sanders and Sam Rivers[167], among others. That, perhaps, can be taken as an indication of where his sound concept was at the time. Ironically, he is most famous for his funky, smooth, R & B recordings of the mid-'70's which were big hits.

Patton's trio continued to gig around New York in the fall of 1968. He recalled doing a three week stint at Lloyd Price's Turntable Club (which was in the location that once housed Birdland), with Alexander and drummer Hugh Walker. The work, however, was not steady for this group, which was a bit of a departure from the typical organ group. Patton recalled, "We weren't able to have an agent that would keep us working, keep us booked. Some of the clubs thought we were playing too way out, you know what I mean. They wanted something a little more commercial...a lot of things were happening like that."[168] Patton recalled doing a lot of free lancing at different times in 1968 with Kenny Burrell, guitarist/flutist Les Spann, George Benson, Calvin Newborn, and tenor saxophonists George Coleman and Claude Bartee.[169]

Oddly, Blue Note called Patton back into the studio a little over two months later, on October 25, 1968, seemingly dissatisfied with the results of the Boogaloo session.[170] Apparently, the session came together at the last minute, and Alexander recalls, "We didn't have no songs down when John came down to get me... we did that thing... 'Congo Chant,' we created that right on the spot. The cat [Frank Wolff] didn't know, so we made that right up. Ain't that gone?"[171] Apparently, the usual two or three days of paid rehearsal that had been Blue Note's modus operandi in the past was not in place for this session or for Boogaloo. Alexander recalled, "I didn't know they did that at Blue Note. I would have remembered that. I don't remember them paying me. I was never there when they paid. If they did anything good, I want to give them credit. I would love to have seen it with my eyes! [laughing] See, I didn't experience that one!"[172] Alexander also said of the session, "It was always under pressure and stress. See, I like to rehearse and get it together, you know. If you didn't have so much together, you couldn't act in the moment like that...I had enough where I could go down and just play...I was playing, but I was capable of playing much more."[173]

As Patton told Zorn on the Boogaloo liner notes, "He [Alexander] would say, 'Man, play anything, what are you kidding?...start playing! And I don't know where we would start, but that's how we did it." Patton confirmed that some of the tunes came together at the session and that the group "hadn't been working that much" before the session and that it had come up a bit unexpectedly. Though it is not clear which, if any, of the tunes had been prepared ahead of time, Patton confirmed that the title track "Understanding," and their transformation (this version sounds almost nothing like the original) of Sam and Dave's "Soul Man" were put together at the studio. Alexander, as previously stated, remembered doing so with "Congo Chant." It is possible that all of the tunes were put together on the spot, as Alexander's "Ding Dong" is based on a vamp from B-flat 7th to E-flat 7th, the version of Sonny Rollins' "Alfie" is played modally without the changes and the last piece is a blues, Kenny Burrell's "Chitlin' Con Carne." "Chitlin' Con Carne" remains in Patton's repertory, and was also recorded later on by Alexander in 1971 in his last recording with Pucho. His own tune "Mama Soul," from his debut album on Flying Dutchman, Sunshine Man also bears an uncanny resemblance to "Chitlin' Con Carne." Rehearsed or not, the chemistry of the group is evident in listening to the complete session reels from that day. The connection between Patton and Alexander (and Walker), that Alexander talked so much about is exhibited here. The group got through all six tunes in only fourteen total takes.

"Congo Chant," a tune that Patton revived in his 1993 recording Blue Planet Man, was the last tune recorded that day. The first take of it is stopped only a couple of minutes in, as it is clearly not jelling. From the first note of the second (and issued) take, it does jell however, Walker's bass drum accentuating an almost subsonic low-E Patton is playing with the foot pedal. Walker's drumming should be noted here for it's interpretation of "that floating thing" and his full use of the different timbres of his drums to sound like a one man percussion circle. The bass drumming is particularly notable in its accompanying role to the bass line. This tune again treads into territory that was unusual for organ groups, perhaps because of the electric sound of the organ does not necessarily conjure up images of Africa. The things that do are Alexander's cries tied to the rhythmic interplay and the brooding darkness Patton provides to the piece.

For all their synergy together, their spiritual ties, and their musical compatibility in terms of their overall vison and interaction in playing, Patton's association with Harold "Jazzbo" Alexander was relatively short, occurring almost entirely in 1968. Ed Williams' words on the liner notes to Understanding, "The musical association of John Patton and Harold Alexander is, in a very real sense, a new beginning, full moon of ideas and ideals," were not to be. Patton recalled what happened, "Someone would say we've got a tour coming up...that broke up a lot of things. When you go on the road, the things that you did when you were in town...the musicians you collaborated with, it just wouldn't hold...wouldn't last. You know, you'd be off too long."[174] Alexander remembered, "I worked with Elvin [Jones]. We went to San Francisco in the Jazz Workshop there and we went to Boston, the Jazz Workshop in Boston. I worked with Jones twice. As a matter of fact, Jimmy Garrison came over to John Patton's house to ask me to come and join the group. John told him where I lived and Jimmy Garrison...came to get me. John was kind enough, even though he was losing a horn player, he was happy for my opportunity to go. Ain't that beautiful? That's rare! Some people would have said, 'I don't know where he lives.' John was happy as a peach."[175] Patton added, "Our thing lasted as long as it could at that particular time. I haven't played with him since and I don't even remember the last time I played with him. I would love to play with him again, though."

Alexander would record three records in the early 1970's, two for Flying Dutchman and one for Atlantic, then dropped out of the music scene. He remarked of the music business, "They didn't kill my spirit, but they killed my desire to share. Ain't that cold? But you keep growing. You keep practicing, you keep getting better...I'm just not gonna share it. Most people don't know what happened to me. I guess they think I'm gone." Patton shared some of these sentiments toward the music business in the 1970's. Alexander eventually left New York. "New York was just a place to survive and endure," he said. He traveled in the far east on a spiritual mission to India and Japan. He currently teaches music to children in his native Charlotte, North Carolina.

Patton regrouped in the spring of 1969, continuing to freelance and getting a new trio together with drummer Leroy Williams and tenor saxophonist Ramon Morris. Williams, who has gained most of his notioriety for playing with pianist Barry Harris since the 1960's, would stay with Patton on and off through 1971. Williams recalled, "I met John in Brooklyn, I think, at some club...maybe the Blue Coronet. It was 1968, I think. I sat in and played with him. It was John and a horn...Jazzbo was there, Harold Alexander. He liked the way I played and when I sat in, I said I wanted to play with the band."[176] Williams (b. Chicago, February 3, 1937) had gained most of his experience in Chicago, having moved to New York in 1967. He told me, "I studied for a while, I had a drum teacher named Oliver Coleman. I was into Max Roach, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, Elvin...all of the guys that came before me. I'm from the south side, most of the jazz was on the south side, most of the blues was on the west side. I got a chance to grab both ends of it. You know, Chicago was a blues town. I played with T-Bone Walker, so many guys I can't remember. Everybody's name was "Little" somebody...Little Milton. I played some of the south side clubs, Theresa's, Sutherland's, McKey's...with John Gilmore, Wilbur Ware, Sonny Stitt. When I came up, music was flourishing everywhere."

Williams described his playing and his involvement with Patton's band, "Well, I'm not really an organ drummer, you know. I mainly used to play with [piano] trios and horn players, but you know, organ was pretty popular at that time. Most organ drummers, they were heavier drummers, tighter drummers. My drumming, well, it's loose...looser than most drummers. I have a wider beat than some drummers. Mine was a different style of playing. John is one of the few organ players I like. I don't particularly like organ players play with, you know...because they had a tendency to want to make you kind of stiff. There's a kind of sustaining [the same groove] thing that kind of locked you up a little bit. But John had a nice, flowing beat. It fell in nice. It had a nice, loose feel it wasn't the typical organ groove, you know what I mean? John was looser. That band was good. John's a good player and it wasn't your typical organ group. John stretched out, you know, Marvin [Cabell, later on] wrote nice music and there weren't any restrictions. We were just loose and free and young and happy. That was a special period in my life, I know that...just thinking about a beautiful time, you know, the late '60's and early '70's. It was a beautiful time."[177]

The group of Patton, Williams and Ramon Morris hit the road in the mid-1969. "We just got in the car and went. Pulling the organ around from his [Patton's] Cadillac...we'd hitch it up with a little trailer with the organ. We played a lot of gigs around Cincinnati, Syracuse, Dayton, Indianapolis, you know, that area. I remember while we were in Cincinnati, John's wife sent us some dashikis...people were wearing dashikis, afros, and stuff. She sent us two apiece, one was a nice maroon and one was black. They were beautifully made and everyone looked so good on the bandstand."[178] The look was a departure from the typical dress code Patton had been accustomed to previously in clubs, "When I was doing touring, man, most of the time I wasn't doing no hippie or free thing. We're talking about a shirt and tie, man. We were really talking about a dark suit, white shirt, and tie, bow tie. When I was working with Lou and when I was working with Grant they always wanted a shirt and tie on all of the players. They wanted you to come on the bandstand looking decent, you know what I mean? They [the clubs] weren't going into that other thing, being free with the dress code. I know Clifford Jarvis [who had worn some more "cosmic" outfits working with Sun Ra] didn't like to dress like that."[179] But later on, "Things got a little freer...Hugh Walker's tam and plaid pants [pictured on the back cover of Understanding] could come in the way you really wanted to."[180]

This seems to have gone along with saxophonist Ramon Morris' attitude as Williams remembers, "Ramon could play. He was a good saxophone player, kind of a wild cat. I really don't know what was up with Ramon. Ramon was kind of wild...running wild."[181] Patton referred to him as "Pretty Ramon," because, "He was woman crazy and he was very theatrical. Putting all this stuff in hair, and he never could seem to get comfortable...he was always messing with his neckstrap and his mouthpiece. He had a big sound, though."[182] It seems Patton could never get comfortable with him, and when the band reached Indianapolis, Williams recalled, "I know him and John got into a dispute about something." At that point, Patton fired Morris. Morris would go on and do a couple of stints as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the early 1970's.

Morris' replacement, saxophonist Marvin Cabell, remembered, "A band that he [Patton] had was out there [in Indianapolis] with Leroy Williams and Ramon Morris. They were there for a week and I was working with a seven-piece group, Funk, Incorporated. I went to their session and he asked me to join the band, because I had known him before, when he was with Lou Donaldson. I'd met John in Chicago around 1962 while he was on a tour."[183] Cabell continued, "Then, he was recording in three weeks to a month or something like that, so he invited me to come to New York and stay at his house. I stayed out there in Brooklyn with him. He had an apartment on Herkimer and I stayed out there with him and his wife and wrote some music." Cabell had known Williams earlier on in their native Chicago.

Cabell, though he had not recorded to that point, was an experienced player who had been involved in several different scenes, in his native Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland (where he currently resides), and in Detroit. In Chicago, Cabell, like Williams, had gotten a firm grounding in the blues and played with such legendary blues figures as T-Bone Walker, Otis Rush, Big Maybelle, and Mighty Joe Young. The influence of the blues is evident in many of Cabell's solos, not only in his bent notes and inflections, but also in his phrasing. In his own biographical sketch, he also cites Chicago tenorist Von Freeman as an influence, and also performed with the inimitable guitarist George Freeman[184], Von's brother. "I [Cabell] used to live with Rahsaan [Roland Kirk] in Milwaukee, about '61 or '62, when I was about 16 or 17. We lived above a club with another sax player named Doug Simmons."[185] Cabell also played various reeds and is one of the few musicians besides Kirk to have recorded on the saxello, which he picked up after his experience with Kirk. Though he admittedly did not do it often, Cabell also plays two horns (saxello and soprano) at once on "Bloodyun," during Patton's October 2, 1970 recording, Memphis to New York Spirit. Cabell said, "That was something I picked up from Rahsaan." In Detroit, he had been involved in a group called the New Art Quartet, "We had an organ group, tenor [himself], Charles Miles, who played flute and alto, a drummer named James Brown, and an organ player out of Columbus named Yogi Cowan...and he played like Larry Young. We were kind of inside and outside. I did a lot of writing with that band."[186] Patton, of course, had been doing that sort of thing as well, and Cabell added, "That's why we hit it off so well."

Discographical information on Patton claims that Cabell's first session with him occurred on June 9, 1969, with George Coleman on tenor sax and Leroy Williams on drums. Cabell vehemently claims this date is wrong, and that the session actually occurred in 1971 or 1972.
He also claims that the drummer on the session was not Leroy Williams, but actually Larry "Skeeter" Hancock, a drummer from the west coast who had worked in Bobby Hutcherson's group. Cabell added, "I think Leroy was out of town playing with Barry Harris at the time."[187] Williams remembers otherwise, "I was on that session. I know I was on the date with George Coleman, I remember that. I think it was after Accent On The Blues. Accent On The Blues might have been the first thing I made in New York. I know there's one session I didn't do with John that was in the time I was playing with him. I remember two with Marvin, but I don't remember doing anything else."[188] It is possible that Cabell is confusing the session with the final session Patton recorded for Blue Note, Memphis to New York Spirit, which was recorded on October 2, 1970. Either way, both players are confident that the date on the session with Coleman is wrong. Patton himself was uncertain.

Cabell's memories are very clear about what his first session with Patton was, which he says was his first session ever. The session was Accent on the Blues, which occurred, assuming the discographies are correct, on August 15, 1969. "On the first date [which is always the way he refers to Accent on the Blues], I did half of the music. It was unheard of for a cat [who was not an established player] to just go into Blue Note and record his music. Usually when you went to Blue Note, they would have a star on the album, horn player or something. Frank Wolff and John just let me do something by myself. I was one of the first cats to do that, and John was gracious enough. He gave me a lot of opportunities to do my music." He added, "We needed a guitar player, so I recommended 'Blood'. So I called 'Blood' and 'Blood' came up and did the session and moved to New York. I got 'Blood' to New York. I knew 'Blood' from Detroit. He was working with a group out there, Focus Novii, with [drummer] Doug Hammond, [tenor saxophonist and Joe's brother] Leon Henderson, bassist John Dana, and [trumpeter] Charles Moore. They were doing all original music because Doug is a great writer, 'Blood's a fact, everybody in the band wrote. That was 'Blood's group. "[189] "Blood," of course, is James "Blood" Ulmer (born February 2, 1942 in St. Matthews, South Carolina), who was virtually unknown at the time. He had recorded once before with Columbus, Ohio-based organist Hank Marr in 1964 or 1965 (discographies do not agree on this, not even the King records discography) on Marr's Sounds from the Marr-ket Place for King Records[190]. He had been uncredited on the record sleeve, though discographies (as well as my own ears) confirm his involvement, as do interviews with Ulmer from the late 1970's. This was his first session in New York. Ulmer would later gain world-wide notoriety as a member of Ornette Coleman's group and as a singularly unique guitar stylist. Ulmer's inventiveness shines on Patton's recordings as well, and Patton recognized it, giving Ulmer the longest solo on "Rakin' and Scrapin,'" a Harold Mabern blues that opens Accent on the Blues. Cabell added,"'Blood' wasn't in the band as a player [at gigs], he just did recordings." Patton recalled doing some gigs with Ulmer at the time, as did Williams, " 'Blood' came in and did some gigs with us."

Cabell assumed the unofficial title of musical director in the group. Accent On The Blues marked the first time that Patton had recorded as leader with none of his own compositions present. "I wanted to deal with my publishing company and they didn't want to do it like that. They wanted to record you and put the tunes in that Groove Music [Blue Note's publishing company]. You know, you'd get 50% and they'd get 50%. But you know how that is...they were really messing you over with the money, man. It was so obvious, you know. Two pennies a record, then they wouldn't let you have the publishing. And instead of putting them [the originals] on the front side, they'd put them on the back side, where the DJ's wouldn't necessarily get to them. That's part of the reason why there's none of my tunes on there."[191]

Trombonist/composer Grachan Moncur III, who had joined Blue Note around the same time as Patton, recalled the situation with the publishing and Blue Note, "They kind of punished me. They say, 'You're a smart nigger. A smart nigger...we'll fix you. They did kick my butt a little. In a sense, if I knew then what I know now, I would have compromised more, but see I didn't have any guidance and I thought they were horrible guys when they did that. I wanted all of my publishing, like I said, I could have given them part of it. In the end, I found out that they were not as bad as I thought they were. It's just that I was inexperienced to the business and I didn't know how to maneuver. They got a little attitude by it. They said they were going to make me a star, they were very disappointed that I wanted all of the publishing and they dropped me like a hot potato, but they still wanted my music. They still wanted my music, but they didn't want to deal with me as one of their artists...which I would have gotten much more promotion and much more work. I was punished for quite some time..."[192] Moncur suffered much the same fate as Patton after his dispute with Blue Note, and did not record again as a leader until 1969 for the French BYG label.

Even without any of his own tunes, in Cabell, Patton found a kindred spirit who expressed some of the same ideas that he had been working towards. I told him what was happening as far as publishing was concerned, and he didn't have a publishing company and I couldn't put him in my publishing company, so it [Cabell's music] ended up with Blue Note, Groove Music. But he was happy about it, he [Frank Wolff] liked some of Marvin's tunes. He was very enthusiastic, there was a lot of enthusiasm in the music. You know, it being his first session had a lot do with it."[193] Indeed, Cabell had not dealt with the same end of the music business Patton had been dealing with for almost fifteen years at that point. Patton had been having problems with publishing companies, publishing rights and royalties since his days with Lloyd Price.

Accent On The Blues, despite its title, has no particular accent on the blues, except for "Rakin' and Scrapin'," on which all of the players shine, particularly Ulmer, who takes center stage and reveals a side of his musical persona which is very different from the one on which his reputation was built. The record is more subdued than Patton's recordings with Alexander, there is more of a feeling of control and subtlety involved. The emphasis on subtlety and melody are particularly evident on Cabell's compositions "Lite Hit" (which Patton maintains in his repertory and recorded again in 1994) and "Village Lee." The tunes are simple harmonically, barely having any changes, but it is obvious from the way they are interpreted, that their end is not to be flashy, but to sing. Leroy Williams even plays the melody of "Village Lee" on the drums. Even on Cabell's more aggressive "Captain Nasty" and the version of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance," there is a focused restraint. "Singing" with solos is something Patton emphasizes in his own solos and to new players who start playing with him (this I know from personal experience). The bombastic element that is so often associated with (and often rightfully so) jazz organ playing is conspicuous in its absence in Patton's last two records for Blue Note. Patton had found a voice on his instrument that could still "shout" without the typical organ "screaming"[194] and was developing his musical ideas with a calm clarity and focus. Accent On The Blues would be the last Patton record that Blue Note would release at the time it was recorded.

Without Ulmer, the group worked as a trio, "Leroy and I were in that band I guess for about 4 or 5 years. I was splitting time time between that group, John's group, Lonnie Smith's group, and Johnny Lytle's band." Of Patton's group he added, "We worked quite a bit, man. We practiced a lot, we worked a lot...different places around New York, so we kept our stuff pretty sharp. That's one thing about John, he loved to practice and play and that's the only way to keep the music happening. He'd always be thinking know, different things. We were trying develop a different sound. It just evolved to that, because we all had different approaches to the music. I did some arranging and writing. We did a lot of things like Miles' stuff, McCoy Tyner, mostly a lot of originals. We did a lot of different types of music, man. We were a band that played everything...I don't like just playing one thing. It's boring. There's a lot of different motions and that's what I like, man. A variety of motions in the music. You know, it can swing, it can be outside, it can be inside."[195] Williams echoed Cabell's sentiments on the diversity of the group, "We did all kinds of things...we would do a funky kind of thing, a few bebop tunes, and Marvin was contributing music. He wrote nice and he had his saxello and flute, so it was a variety of things."[196] Williams left the fold before Cabell, "Marvin was still in the band when I must have been around '71."

The band would also go on the road as Cabell recalled, "We went to Pittsburgh, Philly, Chicago...we played so many different venues." One of the venues was "Detroit Coliseum, 1971...they flew Jazzbo in. So it was me, Jazzbo, John, and I think Leroy was in the band at that time. The Staple Singers came on first, and then then we came on, and then Isaac Hayes came on. He was wearing these chains with his outfit."[197] The outfit Cabell is referring to is the one that Hayes wears on the cover of his Black Moses LP from that era.

Cabell remembered an incident on the road, "[laughing loudly] I don't know if John wants me to tell this one. [still laughing] They [Patton and Leroy Williams] left the know. They weren't going to pay their bill. It was a crazy hotel in Pittsburgh. We never liked Pittsburgh anyway. So...I threw the bags out the window to them. It's the first time I'd experienced that...I'd heard about cats doing it. Then, when I got up and got ready to check out the next day...[imitating hotel clerk] 'Where's your friends?' I'd say, 'I don't know.' 'They're gone!' 'Nothing I can do about that.' John and Leroy, my men!"[198] Williams added, "I remember a gig we did in Pittsburgh and we didn't get all of our money one of those times. We didn't have enough money to pay for the hotel and I think Marvin got out the back door. I know I did, I think Marvin was with me. We had to get out of the hotel because the club owners didn't pay us. That was one of those...we usually got paid."[199]

Patton did one last session for Blue Note on October 2, 1970, with, assuming the discographies are correct, the same group as Accent On The Blues. Patton contributed two of his own compositions to this session, the funky "Memphis," and the moody "Steno," which remains in his repertory today. Ulmer and Cabell each contributed a composition, "Bloodyun" and "The Mandingo," respectively. The record also contains a version of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints." In my conversations with Williams and Cabell, they have both emphasized how this group, aside from being a "happy group" (their words), in terms of their personal and musical ties, stood apart from other organ groups in their repertory, its diversity, and style of musical execution. Memphis To New York Spirit displays all of these facets of the group. Just how different this record is, in repertory and approach, from other organ records that were recorded at the time is obvious when hearing the work done by any of the other organists of the era like Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, Johnny "Hammond" Smith or Lonnie Smith, to name only a few. Memphis To New York Spirit was almost released at two different times in the early 1970's, receiving two different issue numbers from Blue Note (4366 and 4418), but like Boogaloo and the session with George Coleman, remained unissued until the mid-1990's. His working relationship with Blue Note, for all intents and purposes, was over. It would be Patton's last trip to the studio in seven years and his last trip as leader until June 7, 1983.

Not surprisingly, Patton was extremely upset about the situation with Blue Note. "I was going to go with Epic Records," but he was unable to free himself from his contract with Blue Note, and it never happened. As late as 1976, Patton was still bound by contract to Blue Note, though because of his disgust with his situation with them, he refused to record for them again after Memphis To New York Spirit. What followed was a period of disillusionment with the music business that was so great, that Patton went "underground." What Patton means by "underground" is that, "you drop out of sight as far as anything being commercially happening. You're not really on the scene. If you play a gig, it's probably as a sideman on a side street, or at a loft, and it's not advertised."[200] As his current wife Thelma added, "He wouldn't play. He just totally went out of music...maybe he'd play a jam session here and there. When he was playing, he wasn't playing anywhere where he would allow them to use his name. He was just playing, no publicity...none at all. And he'd expected more out of Blue Note...the cover [referring to That Certain Feeling], they had a white girl on the cover. His picture, that was supposed to be a part of it...and that was the big discrepancy there. He couldn't record for anybody else because he was still under contract to them. I think that's why they canned a lot of his CD's until now. He was quite disgusted. In fact, a lot of black musicians were disgusted with a lot of things that had happened to them. He was disenchanted I'd say for a good ten years."[201]

In retrospect, this disillusionment is perhaps traceable to other factors as well. Despite being at the heart of the scene for the bulk of the '60's, Patton received very little recognition in the jazz press. Even during his most active period, he was rarely recognized in Downbeat polls, and there is not a single article about him in any of the jazz magazines, though this is typical of the general bias against organ players in general, then and now. The situation with the Downbeat polls is even more ridiculous in retrospect. To cite just one example, the poll results for organ appearing in the August 25, 1966 issue of Downbeat has Count Basie and Clare Fischer listed. At present, the year 2000, it is safe to say that Count Basie's work in the oeuvre of organ playing, with all due respect to his other achievements, is nothing more than a triviality, and perhaps just a way the record companies were cashing in on Basie's name with the popularity of the organ in that era. Likewise with Fischer, whose work on organ is now also considered an anomaly. Though this may actually have no bearing on why he is there, it is notable that Fischer is the only white artist on the list.[202] Today, neither of them is considered to be influential in any way in terms of the development of the style and it is rare for them to be even mentioned when speaking of jazz organ among aficionados. At the time, Patton mentions, "I'd never even heard Clare Fischer play organ," and of Basie, that it was a conversation piece among organists, but not something that was taken seriously among him and his peers. And yet, because it was Basie, it automatically garnered more attention because of the politics involved with Basie's legendary status (albeit in other fields). "You know, those guys [people like Basie and Fischer], they couldn't get the whole thing going. They didn't attack that bass line like we [the "real" organists] did, that was a whole other thing."

As far as the bias against organists, and some of the other politics involved in what little literature there is on jazz organ playing, one need not look any further than the most recent edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. In fact, one can surmise some of what the content is simply from the picture on the page, which is of Basie, and not of one of the "real" organists, like Larry Young, or Patton, or Patterson, or McDuff, or even, Jimmy Smith. Some of the bias is seemingly present when writing of sidemen who appeared with organists, particularly drummers. As an example, in the entry for Eddie Gladden, there is no mention of his long association with Larry Young and his creative playing within that context which is not "strictly within the hard bop tradition" as the entry suggests. There is no mention of Patton in the entry for Leroy Williams or James 'Blood' Ulmer, though their tenures with Patton were significant stopping points in their careers. There is no entry at all for Joe Dukes (Jack McDuff's drummer through most of the 1960's), despite the fact that he appears on well over fifty records. This sort of discrimination against musicians involved in the jazz organ genre did not occur overnight, and the generally disdainful attitude towards the music is present in many record reviews in Downbeat, among others, in the 1960's.

Furthermore, when some of the "real" organists are mentioned in the literature, there is a tendency to lump all of their work together, as if there were no distinction between any of them. There is always an emphasis on the influence of Jimmy Smith on then as well, which is not always true, as in the case of Patton's work from 1968 on and Larry Young's work after 1964. A simple comparison between two tunes recorded by Patton and Charles Earland in 1970 points out the fatal flaw in lumping the work of all jazz organists together. Patton recorded Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" and Earland recorded "Raindrops Keep Fallling On My Head" (June 1, 1970 for Black Drops, Prestige 7815). Clearly, there is a big difference in the philosophy Patton had at the time as compared to Earland. Simply put, he refused to sell out and others did not. As current wife Thelma said, "John has a lot of integrity when it comes to his music. You just can't buy it. You can't buy him like that. John will give you something for free musically, but to tell him to play this or play that...he's not going to do it."[203] Of course, Patton's full contributions to jazz organ could not be fully assessed until now, when all of the records not released by Blue Note at the time have finally made their way to the public. Nonetheless, as it is with any genre or sub-genre of music, there is much nuance that will not be obvious at a glance; so it is with the treatment of jazz organ in the few writings there are.

Disillusioned or not, Patton still had to work. So, late in 1972, Patton took a gig as a sideman for vocalist Arthur Prysock (1929-1997). It was one of those gigs that he considered "underground," as it did not feature him prominently and his name was not used in any of the advertisements. Furthermore, it was a big departure from the material he had been doing. It would have been difficult to make the connection between the John Patton on, say, Understanding and John Patton the sideman at a supper club. Essentially, it was dropping out of the scene he had been at the heart of for ten years and into another world (no dashikis on stage in Prysock's band). He went on the road and did hotel and country club engagements with Prysock, a baritone singer who had made a reputation as a specialist in romantic ballads in a string of recordings for Verve in the 1960's. Though perhaps musically unrewarding, working with Prysock did bring him a different type of reward.

Current wife Thelma recalls, "I met John at the Stellington House in Montclair [New Jersey]. There used to be a jazz club up there and he was playing with Arthur Prysock at the time. My tennis team was was a Friday night. That's the first night I saw him. It was April of 1973, that was the beginning, and from then on, it just snowballed. We didn't see each other again until May. He was on his way to Texas. They went to Texas and then came back and they were in Atlantic City for the summer and I would go down there on the weekends and meet him, because at the time we were both sort of disenchanted with our marriages. So it wasn't a we were together. But it just got to the point where we just started being together, being together, being together...and we just ended up staying together before we even knew it was happening and up to this date. John was still marred to Ellen at that point and I was still married, too."[204] Patton left Prysock that fall.

Patton had eased his way out of the Nation of Islam. According to Thelma, by the time they had gotten together, "He wasn't going to any of the meetings." Patton was still involved enough, however, to take her so she could have the experience. She remembered, "I've had one experience [with the Nation of Islam] and that was one time with John. There was a Muslim hall in Newark and John begged me to go. We went there and the first thing they did was search you, which, of course, I resented. I guess so you don't come in there with any arms. I don't know. I resented that. The second thing was that I had to sit upstairs and John sat downstairs or wherever he went. You know, you have questions, but I guess females are not supposed to raise their hands. Of course, if you sound intelligent, you're not asked to speak anyhow. So I said to John that would be the last time I'd go. I just couldn't believe it! I'm not a humble person in that John just kind of backed off on that one. Of course, I was inquisitive enough to go."[205] Patton moved in with Thelma Green in Montclair, New Jersey in 1975, having ended his marriage of 11 years to Ellen Brooks.

In 1976, while remaining "underground," Thelma Patton recalled, "He was offered quite a bit of money to play at that South African thing where they wanted the black musicians to play for the white audiences...and he wouldn't take it. I said, 'All that money, what are you talking about? Why don't you take it?' He said, 'I can't do that. I can't just betray my music and my people.'"[206] John Patton himself added on the subject, "They wrote several letters for me to come to South Africa through Blue Note. I wouldn't go because of the apartheid over there. They were knocking musicians out of gigs who went over there when they came back. Groups like Ray Charles and Aretha, they're the ones that went. They wouldn't lose gigs anyway."[207] Though he was underground and not wanting to get out and gig, Patton still wanted to keep his underground status on his own terms and not be forced out of gigs in case he changed his mind.

Another "underground" gig Patton took was as musical director and conductor for the band that went on tour with the Jackson 5 for their "Touch of Class" tour in the late 1970's. In some ways, it was a sort of deja vu for Patton as it shared some of the characteristics of his work in the Lloyd Price band twenty years earlier. Patton remembered, "I was part of the big band that played for all the other groups [besides the Jacksons, who had their own band]...they had a lot of dancers and a lot of other groups...some of the doo-wop names. We did a roundabout thing [tour around the country] and ended up at the coliseum out there in Long Island, Nassau Coliseum. That was the last one. Oh man, there were so many people there. We rehearsed in one of the big rehearsal halls on west 48th or 49th St. That's where we got it all together."[208]

Around this time, on October 31, 1977, Patton also recorded as a sideman for vibraphonist Johnny Lytle. Lytle (1932-1996) had recorded several jazz juke-box hits in the 1960's, "Lela," "Selim" (his own composition, not the piece on Miles Davis' Live-evil), and the "Village Caller," for a variety of labels, including Riverside. Lytle had fronted an organ group during the bulk of his career, and had been the one-time employer of Patton's friend and bandmate, Marvin Cabell. Cabell, however, had nothing to do with Patton landing this date. Patton, true to his "underground" form of not bringing attention to himself, did not play organ on the session, but instead played piano and electric piano. This recording was the only one he had done that he was not featured on organ since the Fred Jackson session from June of 1962, which at that time was still unissued. Patton is not the only keyboard player on the date and is at times buried in the mix.

The scene in Newark during the 1980's, though it is not something that has been publicized much, was very happening and Patton was at the heart of it. As such, he was again

The bulk of Patton's musical activity centered around Pearl's Pub. Thelma Patton remembers, "It's not there any more, they tore it down. It was in Newark on West Market Street. Pearl Hunter, she passed away, it was her place...John and Eddie Gladden were like the house band, so everybody came through there. Harold Vick, came through there, Curtis Fuller, Sonny Stitt...I mean all of the guys came through there. It was a very happening thing. John Lewis [not of the Modern Jazz Quartet, but the club manager] was responsible for coordinating that. He was a great guy, like my big brother, I knew him from growing up in Montclair." playing, at different times, with jazz players of legendary status like Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, "Big" Nick Nicholas, and James Spaulding, as well as old sidekicks like George Braith. A brief, one week engagement in the mid-1980's at Sparky J's was a trio of himself, Pharaoh Sanders, and George Brown, who had been a member of Patton's group in 1968. Patton recalled that Sanders played fairly straight on many standards and conventional tunes, like Bobby Timmon's "Moanin'," as well as getting into the bag that Sanders is most often associated with. Presumably, the group also did some of the tunes that the Patton-Harold Alexander-George Brown trio had done in 1968, as Sanders' style obviously lent itself to the tunes which had at one time had Harold Alexander's outbursts of freedom.

Marvin Cabell remembered of Patton's "underground" period, "We'd still hit now and then. John opened my club in Baltimore, it was called the Full Moon. He was the first cat I had there. That was in '79. I think he stayed there for three weeks or a month. My club was open from 10 [p.m.] to 4 in the morning and everybody who was in town used to come through my club when they were through working...Ira Sullivan, Big Nick [Nicholas], Jaki Byard, Milt Jackson. Some of the cats would play...especially Big Nick. During the day, I was teaching younger cats. I would have students that come through the club and rehearse."[209]

Patton also did stints teaching at two different times in the late 1970's. One was a program teaching underprivileged youth in Gary, Indiana for the Inner City Youth Programs. Thelma Patton recalled, "I think his mom was moving. The highway was coming through the street where the house was [in Kansas City]. John went out there to help her do the moving and whatnot and that's when they asked him if he would do some teaching out there. His cousin had something to do with that, so he went to Gary [Indiana]. He went back there for a while. Later, he also taught at Hastings on the Hudson [as part of an after school Cultural Enrichment Program]."[210] Those were mainly student ensembles, but in recent years Patton has also turned to giving private lessons to aspiring organists. As we shall see, this was not Patton's only teaching experience.

In the early '80's, Patton began to get more involved in the scene again. He had befriended trombonist/composer Grachan Moncur III (born Miami, Florida, June 3, 1937), with whom he rehearsed regularly in Moncur's downtown Newark studio. Moncur, though he was born in Florida, has spent most of his life in Newark, where he currently resides. Patton had met Moncur in 1963, when both had been recently signed by Blue Note. The combination of Patton and Moncur seems unlikely on the surface, as Moncur had made most of his reputation in jazz history playing freer forms of jazz with the likes of Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Sonny Rollins (in 1964, during one of his freer periods), and Beaver Harris, as well as for some of the more unique compositions to emerge in jazz in the 1960's. Patton remembered, "In the middle part of the '80's me and Grachan hooked up. Me and Grachan would woodshed together. We would really go deeply into the woodshed...learning tunes, learning melodies. We did a lot of gigs together, interviews, and my record date. Grachan, you know, is quite a composer. You KNOW I like the way he writes, his tunes are so great...and I was really impressed. In fact, we had a little studio we used to woodshed in in downtown Newark."[211] Some of Moncur's tunes, like "The Coaster," which he had recorded on his Evolution session for Blue Note in 1963, fit into Patton's scheme of things perfectly, and Patton has written tunes in a similar vein himself. Patton ended up recording the tune on his only date as leader of the '80's, titled Soul Connection , for drummer Alvin Queen's independent, Swiss-based label, Nilva Records. The record was issued only in Europe and has never been issued in the United States.

Moncur said of that era, "John was very instrumental in my workshop as a keyboard instructor. It was a segment of the Moncuranian Jazz Workshop, and I had a studio right here on Warren Street, right here on the edge of Rutgers campus, I had a studio. The piano workshop that I had, it really consisted of John Patton, LaRue Jordan, and my wife, who was more classically trained. And we got together every single day, and it went on for seven or eight years. Quite a few people got a lot out of that, quite a few artists who came through like Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen...that was when I was composer in residence at Newark Unity School of the Arts."[212] Patton was also doing gigs with Moncur on a regular basis in different clubs, including Sparky J's, in Newark during this period.

The session for Soul Connection almost did not happen, as Thelma Patton recalled, "Going to get Grachan in Newark, well, Grachan was late. So we were waiting for him, and by the time we got up there [Minot Studios, in White Plains, New York], they were getting ready to say cancel. The engineer, Ron Carran, was really nice and he was one of John's great fans and he didn't mind working late." Once the date did get rolling, things were not as smooth as they could have been, as Moncur and guitarist Melvin Sparks got into a disagreement in the middle of the session. Thelma remembered, "Grachan [being a composer] was very particular about his music [two of his tunes are on the session], so he wanted Melvin to play a certain way...and Melvin and Grachan got into a big thing over that, and John had to say, 'hey man, this is my gig.' The vibes were kind of...[making a face of discomfort] Melvin was a little disturbed with Grachan, but because he liked John a lot, he just discounted Grachan, more or less."[213]

The potential problems aside, the date shows Patton to be in top-notch form in his first studio date as leader in almost thirteen years, playing as loose and free as ever on the title cut, Dusko Goykovich's "Soul Connection," as he is on his own "Extensions," a modal piece based on the"So What" idea, but with an added turnaround. Patton's rhythm section interplay with Alvin Queen (b. New York, 1950) is also remarkable, as Queen displays some of the loose style that characterized Leroy Williams' playing, but with more of a straight ahead drive, or to put it in Leroy Williams' terms, not as wide a beat. Queen, though he has recorded with Wild Bill Davis and Lonnie Smith is not the "typical organ drummer"[214] either, as he came up playing in Charles Tolliver's Music Inc. in the 1970's, at the time Stanley Cowell was in the band and with Harry Edison and Junior Mance, among others. His diversity and taste mesh beautifully with Patton and Sparks in the rhythm section, and the entire band makes the session happen despite the tension that had happened in the studio.

In the process of getting out and doing more gigs in the 1980's, Patton got a working group together with guitarist Jimmy Ponder and drummer Eddie Gladden. It is not clear whether Ponder or Patton was the official leader of the group, but the group came together as a result of Patton and Gladden's association at Pearl's Pub in Newark. Gladden (b. Newark, December 6, 1937), another diverse drum stylist, has an extensive recording resume, but is best known for his associations with Larry Young in the 1960's (he is on virtually all of Young's ground-breaking recordings on Blue Note) and Dexter Gordon in the 1970's. He was a mainstay on the Newark scene whenever he was not on the road with any of the numerous people he worked with as a sideman. As Ponder mentioned, this led to the group appearing on Ponder's solo records for Muse in the 1980's.

It was during this period that Patton received a call from saxophonist/composer John Zorn. Thelma Patton says, "Zorn called John. I don't even know if John knew about Zorn, because Zorn plays avant-garde [among many other things]. But John was noe of his favorite organ players. Zorn is a very, very, very nice person. I love him, he's a really great guy." Aside from that, Zorn was well connected and active in numerous different projects, in the United States and in Japan, where he had spent a considerable amount of time beginning in 1985. Zorn had called Patton in 1985 to take part in his Big Gundown project on one track. Zorn later called Patton in to play on the extended piece, "Two-Lane Highway," (which Zorn himself subtitled "Concerto for Albert Collins" in the liner notes) on his project Spillane, in 1987.

Zorn, with a completely different sort of audience in tow, helped give Patton all sorts of exposure, including a trip to the Jazz Festival in Bari, Italy in 1988. Thelma Patton recalled of the trip, "We came in a week early. It [Bari] was very native and very few of them had seen black people [despite its proximity to North Africa]. And John and I, at that time, we were the only blacks on the island. You know, I'd have about fifteen men following me around, and John with the men and the women. They bought us know, we were treated like royalty. The night before the concert, Ulmer came in. I guess that was the second time they'd seen another black person, so there were three of us on the island. Ulmer went right out the same night. Ulmer played on the gig, they did all John's music, of course." Zorn also scheduled a radio interview for himself and Patton, of which Thelma remembered, "We had an occasion of going on the radio and they had a Japanese guy they were interviewing. And they were interviewing him as if John [Patton] and John [Zorn] were not even there, you know. And John Zorn was very, very upset about that. John Zorn said, 'I'm going to jump out the window! I can't believe they're disgracing me like this!' John and John were ticked off that they would take this young, Japanese kid coming out of nowhere and here's two great names and taking hours and know, from the time he was born until he got here and there. We sat there for like two hours and they [the radio people] were talking ten or fifteen minutes. So I said to John [Patton], 'what are you going to do?' This is really, terrible...really embarrassing.' So we got up and walked out...they came after them and eventually, I think they did do the was funny after a while, but not then."[215] Zorn also helped Patton get booked in clubs that would not usually book him, like the Knitting Factory, where he played several times in the late '80's and into the early 1990's, with Zorn in the band.

Zorn, of course, is one of the more versatile musicians of our time, so adapting to Patton's band was no problem for him. Zorn has done numerous jazz-oriented projects like a record in tribute to Sonny Clark, on which he sounds a bit like Jackie McLean around 1960. Zorn's unique sound effects on the alto saxophone and his own outbursts of freedom were perfectly at home in Patton's group as well, as the 1993 recording of "Congo Chant" from Blue Planet Man will attest. Thelma Patton said, "What happened with Zorn is that he has a recording company with a Japanese guy. He started recording John [Patton] and I guess the name started going out there. The Japanese then came to John to record. So Zorn did a couple of recordings with John."[216]

The Japanese that Thelma Patton is referring to is Yoshiyama of Japan's King Records. He heard Patton at a club in Montclair, New Jersey in 1992 and hooked up the record deal that lead to Blue Planet Man. She added, "Well, Yoshiyama couldn't be here[for the session], so he asked me to do the producing, instead of making me the associate producer he just made me the producer, knowing that I that I knew the musicians and how to get them together, and the rehearsals, and all of that kind of thing. We actually wanted Lou Donaldson, but Lou wasn't available so that's why we had Bill Saxton on there. Lou was away, I think he was in Europe. The budget was issued to me through the Japanese. So, as producer, you coordinate, you get the money together, you find out who's on first, who's on second and you try to get the good vibes and the personalities together and the guys you know John likes to work with, and like to work with John. There's plenty of rehearsals and you have to set up the food, and you've got to pay for the rehearsals and those sorts of things. Get them set up and ready. It's a big baby sitting job...that's exactly what it is. It was baby sitting the whole time. I enjoyed it though, I really did. And the studio we recorded in was one of the high tech studios. Fantastic studio [Skyline Studios in New York City]."

Later, John Zorn helped arrange a deal with the Japanese label DIW. Patton has recorded his last two records for them. Zorn has been involved in Patton's last three recordings, playing on 1994's Minor Swing and producing Patton's most recent recording, This One's For Ja. Minor Swing consisted mostly of updated versions of tunes Patton recorded during his Blue Note period, including his signature, "Along Came John," and a tribute to Larry Young with Young's 3/4 blues "Tyrone." All of these records, were issued only in Japan originally, but have since been released in the United States on Evidence (Blue Planet Man) and DIW (the other two). His most recent recording continues to reflect the influence of some musicians he has admired since the 1960's, Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, containing versions of Shorter's "Children of the Night" and Coltrane's "Syeeda's Song Flute." The record also includes some of Patton's more recent compositions, including the engaging bossa nova, "Patand," which is a mainstay in his current live repertory. Patton continues to compose and has a number of recent compositions that have yet to be recorded or performed live.

Though he has been slowed a bit by diabetes and a freak injury to his right hand that he sustained while changing a tire on his van in the early '90's, Patton has received much of the recognition in the '90's that eluded him earlier in his career and is alive and well. He told an interviewer for Chicago's New City newspaper in March, 1999, (Chicago's answer to the Village Voice) of his injury, "I was ready to open up the last fingers, so I could hit those extended chords instead of doing so many tucks, then this little accident happened, but hey, one monkey don't stop no show!" He plays several gigs a year in Europe, particularly England, where he has been on several occasions and has a big following. He has also played in Canada. Surprisingly, despite the connection with the Japanese record label, he has not ventured to Japan, where much of his music which has not been reissued in the United States is readily available. He also plays engagements throughout the United States, occasionally hooking up with old friends like George Braith and George Freeman to do gigs. As of now, Patton now has more of his music available to the public than ever before in his career.
In closing, we can only hope that the "rediscovery" of many of the organists from the 1960's and their records that has resulted from the "acid jazz" fad is not a fleeting moment, but also leads to a deeper appreciation of the music made by musicians like John Patton. Patton, unlike many of his peers on the instrument, attempted to bridge several areas of jazz in his music and should be recognized for his unique statements. As of 1968, Patton was not as commercially oriented as other organists and other former associates of his, like Lou Donaldson and Grant Green. His music was not overtly out like some of Larry Young's work, and as such, has often been neglected for not being "out" enough or "commercial" enough. Therein lies its vision, as a bridge of stylistic elements drawn from the many musicians who Patton has played with and known through the years, but always expressing these seemingly disparate ideas without forgetting the groove. Patton has pursued his musical vision when given the opportunity, and we can only hope the opportunity presents itself more often

[1] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[2] John Patton Resume, updated 1998.

[3] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[4] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 24 September 1999.

Patton named his tune "Jerry" on "Oh Baby!" (Blue Note 4192, 1965) after his younger brother.

[5] Martin, Terry. Liner Notes. John Patton: Blue John. LP and CD. Blue Note 84143, 1986.

[6] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[7] Martin, Terry. Liner Notes. John Patton: Blue John. LP and CD. Blue Note 84143, 1986.

[8] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 24 September 1999.

[9] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[10] Martin, Terry. Liner Notes. John Patton: Blue John. LP and CD. Blue Note 84143, 1986.

[11] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[12] Levin, Robert. Liner Notes. Baby Face Willette: Face To Face. LP and CD. Blue Note 84068 (LP) and 59382 (CD), 1961 (LP) and 1997 (CD).

[13] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[14] ibid.

[15] Martin, Terry. Liner notes. John Patton: Blue John. LP and CD. Blue Note 84143, 1986.

[16] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[17] Shields, Del. Liner notes. John Patton: Oh Baby!. LP. Blue Note 4192, 1965.

[18] ibid.

[19] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[20] Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues. New York: Penguin Books, 1993, p. 333. Different sources vary on the actual birthdate for Price, citing both 1933 and 1934 as the year of birth, and New Orleans as the place of birth. Oddly, the day, March 9, is the same in all references.

[21] Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues. New York: Penguin Books, 1993, p. 333.

[22] Hale, Natt. Liner Notes. Lloyd Price: The Exciting Lloyd Price. LP. ABC-Paramount 277, 1959.

[23] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 30 April 1999.

[24] Martin, Terry. Liner Notes. John Patton: Blue John. LP and CD. Blue Note 84143, 1986.

[25] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 24 September 1999.

[26] Scaduto, Anthony. "Harold Vick, Played with Jazz Giants" New York Newsday 16 November 1987, morning ed., obituaries. This article also imparts some of Vick's other playing experience which is not commonly cited, such as his association with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band in 1969-1970, King Curtis in 1969-1970, and Aretha Franklin from 1970-1974. Vick was among the many jazz musicians who returned to r & b in the 1970's because of the economic realities facing jazz musicians.

[27] Goldberg, Joe. Liner notes. Harold Vick: Steppin' Out! LP and CD. Blue Note 84138 (LP) and 52433 (CD), 1963 (LP) and 1996 (CD).

[28] During one of our rehearsals together in February of 1999, I asked Patton who his favorite guitarist was. He simply replied: "You mean, besides Grant?"

[29] Hale, Natt. Liner Notes. Lloyd Price: The Exciting Lloyd Price. LP. ABC-Paramount 277, 1959.

[30] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[31] Vera, Billy. Liner Notes. Lloyd Price: Lawdy!. CD. Specialty 7010, 1993.

[32] Curson, Ted. Personal Interview. 16 August 1999.

[33] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[34] ibid.

[35] ibid.

[36] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[37] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 24 September 1999.

[38] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[39] Cobb, Jimmy. Unpublished interview by Sang-Bum Shim. 6 December 1998.

[40] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[41] The term "tommin'" derives from the term "Uncle Tom." Part of the definition found in Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang (Edited by Clarence Major, who also wrote the introduction, Viking Press, New York, 1994) states: " a black person who is culturally disloyal; a black person who does not practice cultural loyalty; a pejorative term for any African-American perceived by any other African-American to be "middle-class," to own property, and to have money in the bank."

[42] Fallico, Pete. "Big" John Patton. January 1996. online.

28 October 1999.

[43] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 30 April 1999.

[44] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[45] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[46] Patton, John. Personal interview. 24 September 1999.

[47] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[48] ibid.

[49] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[50] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[51] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[52] Patton, John. Personal interview. 24 September 1999.

[53] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[54] Feather, Leonard. John Patton, Blue Note Records. Liberty Records, Inc. Press Information,

March, 6, 1968.

[55] Garland, Phyl. Liner notes. John Patton: Let 'Em Roll. LP. Blue Note 84239, 1966.

[56] Goldberg, Joe. Liner notes. John Patton: Along Came John. LP. Blue Note 84130, 1963.

[57] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 29 January 1999.

[58] "John Zorn." Keyboard August 1990: 70.

[59] Shields, Del. Liner notes. John Patton: Oh Baby! LP. Blue Note 84192, 1965.

[60] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[61] Perhaps the best examples of this (and there are several of them) can be heard on "Surrey With The Fringe On Top," from Grant Green's "Blues For Lou" CD (Blue Note 21438, 1999) recorded February 20, 1963, or "Bad John" from Lou Donaldson's "Good Gracious!," (Blue Note 84125, CD 54325) recorded January 24, 1963.

[62] Among them is Don Patterson (1936-1988), who made his mark in the 1960's as the most bebop influenced organ player. His long association with Sonny Stitt on recordings (mostly on Prestige Records) and the bandstand, choice of repertory (including bebop standards like Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait," Charlie Parker's "Now's The Time," and "Donna Lee," and Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'n' Boogie," among others ), and a touch that was at times as indebted to Bud Powell as Jimmy Smith are all factors that have led writers (including this one) to that statement.

[63] Shields, Del. Liner notes. John Patton: Oh Baby! LP. Blue Note 84192, 1965.

[64] Patton, John, Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[65] Garland, Phyl. Liner notes. John Patton: Let 'Em Roll. LP. Blue Note 84239, 1966.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[68] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[69] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[70] Patton, John. Personal interview. 10 November 1999.

[71] According to the June 15, 1963 issue of the New Amsterdam News, the name "Branker's" was officially changed to "Showplace on the Hill," though the name "Branker's" was still often used to refer to the club.

[72] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[73] The first session, "Here 'Tis" (Blue Note 84066, recorded January 23, 1961), is one of Grant Green's first sessions for Blue Note. The second, "Man With A Horn," (Blue Note 21436, recorded September 25, 1961) was done with Jack McDuff's group (sans Harold Vick), which also included Grant Green, around the time that Donaldson met Patton. The session was unissued until 1999.

[74] Donaldson, Lou. Personal interview. 15 November 1999.

[75] ibid.

[76] ibid.

[77] An advertisement for the gig appeared on p. 18 of the December 30, 1961 edition of the New Amsterdam News. Patton confirmed his involvement on the gig to me on December 6, 1999.

[78] Patton, John. Personal interviews. 30 April 1999 and 16 November 1999.

[79] Donaldson, Lou. Personal interview. 15 November 1999. Patton confirmed this incident on 16 November 1999, he laughed as he said, "Oh, yeah, on the throughway."

[80] Porter, Bob. Liner notes. Lou Donaldson: The Scorpion: Live At The Cadillac Club. CD. Blue Note 31876, 1995.

[81] Wilson, Reuben. Personal interview. 7 November 1998.

LP. Blue Note 84108, 1962.

[83] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[84] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[85] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[86] Martin, Terry. Liner notes. John Patton: Blue John. LP and CD. Blue Note 84143, 1986.

[87] Green, Sharony Andrews. Grant Green: Rediscovering the Forgotten Genius of Jazz Guitar. San Francisco: Miller-Freeman Books, 1999.

[88] Walker, Jesse H. "Tavern Topics" column. New Amsterdam News 24 August 1963, p. 16.

[89] Patton, John. Personal Interview. 17 October 1999. Patton was not certain if the drummer that night was Ben Dixon or Chauncey Williams, who regularly played at Branker's both with Patton and organist Gloria Coleman. Several clippings from the New Amsterdam News of the era confirm that Grant Green was a part of both groups as well.

[90] Patton, John. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[91] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[92] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[93] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[94] Only one tune from the session has been released, and not until October, 1999 on a Blue Note compilation titled "The Lost Sessions." (Blue Note 21484) One of the many priceless moments I have had since meeting John Patton was the first time I played him the released track, "Cowbell Boogie," and asked him to guess who was playing the piano. Not having heard the piece in over 37 years, he made several incorrect guesses and still did not realize that it was actually him on the recording. He laughed ecstatically when I eventually told him that it was him.

[95] Patton, John. Personal interview. 17 October 1999.

[96] Dixon recalled the wedding, being the best man, and that Mary Lois was from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, but did not know her maiden name. He said, "My mother would probably know. I think she has some pictures of that, but I'm not sure." There has been no further pursuit of the matter. See next footnote.

[97] Because the subject was of a sensitive nature to Patton, it took many different conversations to finally piece together the events of that night. Patton's current wife, Thelma, was also very helpful in trying to put the story together. The bulk of the information was drawn from interviews on 29 January, 1999, 26 July, 1999 and 17 October, 1999. It should also be noted that Calvin Newborn told an erroneous account of the situation in his book, "As Quiet As Its Kept: The Genius of Phineas Newborn, Jr." (Memphis, TN, Phineas Newborn, Jr. Family Foundation, 1996).

[98] Donaldson, Lou. Personal interview. 15 November 1999.

[99] Delaney, Paul. "Jazz Debut (Again) Draws Few." Dayton Daily News February, 1967. There is missing bibliographic information on this article because it was taken from the clippings file at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, Newark.

[100] Patton, John. Personal interview. 30 April 1999.

[101] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[102] The guitarist on the session was the late Roy Montrell (d.1979). Montrell was based out of New Orleans and was the studio guitarist on many New Orleans rhythm and blues records on the Minit and Instant labels, among others. Patton recalls that Montrell had toured with the Lloyd Price orchestra when both Patton and Dixon were in the group. Montrell also toured with rhythm and blues stalwarts Roy Milton and Fats Domino.

[103] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[104] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[105] Williams had been a bandmate of Green's in his native St. Louis before both relocated to New York. Williams appeared with Green on St. Louis organist Sam Lazar's Space Flight on Argo in 1960, Green's first recording with an organ combo.

[106] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 Febraury 2000.

[107] Patton, John. Personal interview. 30 April 1999.

[108] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[109] Donaldson's current band, which is an organ combo featuring Lonnie Smith, still plays similar sets to this, including some of the same tunes like "Caracas." I had the good fortune of seeing one of their shows myself in August, 1999. Patton still includes some of the tunes in his sets, like "Good Gracious," and "Caracas," among others.

[110] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[111] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[112] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[113] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[114] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[115] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[116] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[117] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[118] In some ways, Henderson not appearing on the Way I Feel is a blessing, as it is the last recording known to be extant of Jackson's exquisitely soulful saxophone playing. He, or someone with the exact same, not uncommon name, appears on Bobby Hutcherson's Head On (Blue Note 84376, 1971) playing piccolo. As Michael Cuscuna commented in the liner notes to the CD reissue of Jackson's Hootin' and Tootin' (Blue Note 21819) in 1997, "Nothing more was heard from him on the jazz scene since that time." Patton himself commented on Jackson on January 29, 1999, "I don't know [what ever happened to Fred], man. Me and Fred used to hang together...He stayed on Columbus Ave. for a while. I lost contact with him. He moved to Atlanta or somewhere and I haven't heard from him since."

[119] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[120] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[121] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 1999.

[122] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[123] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[124] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[125] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[126] Shields, Del. Liner notes. John Patton: Oh Baby. LP. Blue Note 4192, 1965.

[127] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[128] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[129] Feather, Leonard. Liner notes. George Braith: Soul Stream. LP. Blue Note 84161, 1964.

[130] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[131] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[132] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[133] Patton, John. Personal interview. 29 January 2000.

[134] Green's staccato attack on the Oliphant version of "Soul Woman" is a precursor to the styles of later soul jazz guitar luminaries Jimmy Ponder, Melvin Sparks, and Ivan "Boogaloo Joe" Jones. Sparks incorporated some of Green's lines from this solo intact into his own bag of tricks. The influence of Green is also clear in Ponder's solos on Patton's That Certain Feeling.

[135] Naming a record before it is even recorded is, of course, unusual and this probably did not happen. However, given the arrangements on the record, and particularly the length of the tunes and the solos, it is easy to presume that there was more of a commercial leaning planned for this session than the others Braith, Patton, or Green had done up to that point. Oddly, Braith's next session Musart (Prestige 7515) is probably his most adventurous, and a stark contrast to the commercial elements of Laughing Soul (Prestige 7474).

[136] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[137] Porter, Lewis. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1998.

[138] Ponder, Jimmy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[139] Patton, John. Personal interview. 14 December 1999.

[140] Green, Sharony Andrews. Grant Green: Rediscovering the Forgotten Genius of Jazz Guitar. San Francisco: Miller-Freeman Books, 1999.

[141] Green never used his Muslim name either, and apparently, few people actually knew what it was. It is not included in Sharony Andrews Green's book and Patton, a close friend of Green's from the early 1960's until Green's death in 1979, never knew it either, nor did Ben Dixon.

[142] Dixon, Ben. Personal interview. 30 January 2000.

[143] Patton, John. Personal interview. 14 December 1999.

[144] ibid.

[145] The term is derived from the Islamic term "kufr." An online glossary of Islamic terms compiled by Ishaq Shahid (found at defines the term. Kufr
..>..> ..> ..>..>..>

Its original meaning is 'to conceal'. This word has been variously used in the Quran to denote: (1) state of absolute lack of faith; (2) rejection or denial of any of the esentials of Islam; (3) attitude of ingratitude and thanklessness to God; and (4) non-fulfilment of certain basic requirements of faith. In the accepted technical sense, kufr consists of rejection of the Divine Guidance communicated through the Prophets and Messengers of God. More specifically, ever since the advent of the last of the Prophets and Messengers, Muhammad (S.A.W.), rejection of his teaching constitutes Kufr.

[146] Braith did not always succeed in this endeavor, as there is an advertisement in the November 10, 1966 Village Voice for him appearing at Slug's in the East Village. Two of Slug's four owners, Robert Schoenholt and Jerry Schultz, were white.

[147] Patton, John. Personal interview. 14 December 1999.

[148] I discussed this situation with Patton during a phone conversation on 15 December 1999. He is certain that his disagreement with Blue Note was directly responsible for some of the sessions remaining unissued for over 25 years.

[149] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[150] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[151] This is drawn from two different interviews, 26 July 1999 and 7 February 2000.

[152] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 15 September 1999.

[153] "Profile: Harold Alexander." Atlantic Records Press Release for Raw Root. 1974.

[154]< SPAN> Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[155] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 Februray 2000.

[156] Zorn, John. Liner notes. John Patton: Boogaloo. CD. Blue Note 31878, 1995.

[157] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[158] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[159] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[160] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[161] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[162] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[163] The fact that three members or former members of Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers were on the session was pure coincidence. As Alexander said, "I think John brought them over there, because I had nothing to do with it," despite his ties to the group. Patton himself commented, "I didn't really hang with Pucho." Interestingly, Grant Green's groups from the early 1970's also had Pucho alums, keyboardist Neal Creque, vibist Willie Bivens, and tenor saxophonist Claude Bartee. This had led me to believe there was some tie or interaction between the Patton-Green group and Pucho, but it is just coincidence.

[164] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 13 February 2000.

[165] It should be noted that Richard Landrum's conga also complements what is happening, but is buried a bit in the mix, and perhaps in the sound of Brown's one-man percussion section, who at times doubles some of Landrum's playing on his toms.

[166] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[167] What Alexander means by "wide open drums" is perhaps best exemplified by Connors' playing on Sam Rivers live album from 1973, Streams, on Impulse.

[168] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[169] Patton, John. Personal interview. 30 April 1999.

[170] My guess is that the reason the record was not released was because of a few subtle technical flaws in the recording; the congas are not recorded well, there is an ebb and flow with the level of the bass (an interesting effect that is surely unintentional, and not an effect of the Leslie speaker) on "B and J (Two Sisters)," and Alexander makes an entrance off mike. Only subtle detriments to some of Patton's best performances on record.

[171] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[172] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[173] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[174] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[175] Alexander, Harold. Personal interview. 12 February 2000.

[176] Williams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[177] Williams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[178] Williams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[179] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[180] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[181] Williams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[182] Patton, John. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[183] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interviews. 13 February 2000 and 28 September 1999.

[184] George Freeman (b. Chicago, April 10, 1927) is a veteran of the Chicago scene who has performed with a virtual who's who of jazz history, inclucing Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Sonny Stitt, and virtually every jazz organist, including John Patton in recent years. He, like the aforementioned reedman Harold Alexander, has blended inside and outside styles (bebop, B. B. King and Sonny Sharrock) into his own musical vision and is one of the underappreciated original voices on the instrument.

[185] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 20 February 2000.

[186] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 13 February 2000.

[187] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 20 February 2000.

[188] Williams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[189] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 13 February 2000.

[190] Legend has it that the tenor player on the date is the late George Adams, which would also be his first recording. Again, because of the lack of precise information in the King Records discography, this must be confirmed a different way. Judging from the sound, it is certainly possible.

[191] Patton, John Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[192] Moncur III, Grachan. Personal interview. 29 February 2000.

[193] Patton, John. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[194] There are, of course, innumerable examples of "screaming" on the organ, one of many by Patton himself doing it is on Harold Vick's "Night Flight," from Oh Baby! The idea consists simply of holding one of the highest notes available, sometimes harmonized, other times continuing to play a line with the other fingers while the note is held. This device comes directly out of Jimmy Smith's musical vocabulary and is a favorite of Jack McDuff's and Don Patterson, among many others.

[195] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interviews. 28 September 1999 and 13 February 2000.

[196] Williams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[197] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 22 February 2000.

[198] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 13 February 2000.

[199] Wiliams, Leroy. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[200] Patton, John. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[201] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[202] The rest of the list includes some usual suspects, in order from top to bottom: Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Wild Bill Davis, Don Patterson, Jack McDuff, Basie, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Freddie Roach, and Fischer.

[203] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[204] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[205] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[206] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[207] Patton, John. Personal interview. 23 February 2000.

[208] Patton, John. Personal interview. 26 July 1999.

[209] Cabell, Marvin. Personal interview. 13 February 2000.

[210] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[211] Patton, John. Personal interview. 7 February 2000.

[212] Moncur III, Grachan. Personal interview. 29 February 2000.

[213] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[214] It should be noted that there are many fine drummers, who are quite creative, who are "typical organ drummers;" but who are perhaps not as well publicized because of the aforementioned politics that seem to be present in most writing on organ players. The late Joe Dukes, who played with Jack McDuff, is an example of someone who is underappreciated in this sense, rivalling Art Blakey in raw power and unmatched by anyone in his groove.

[215] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.

[216] Patton, Thelma. Personal interview. 9 February 2000.