Organ moods

Three measured doses of organ jazz ambience this week.  These selections may only bore you, or you may find something more subtle and exciting about these, something with the quality of a cinematic archetype.  Think “after hours nightclub scene.”

See also Sleeping Pills.

1. Gene Ludwig, Blue Flame (Jocida)
Atmosphere really falls into place beautifully on “Blue Flame,” a mood piece featuring Gene Ludwig’s soulful organ along with the arrangements and percussion of session musician Arthur Jenkins. (Jenkins co-authored this, along with obscure jazz composer and pianist Alonzo “Lonzo” Levister.)  The unusual vocalizations, so strangely reminiscent of a jug, deserve special mention here as well.

Gene Ludwig is a Pittsburgh-based organ player who plied the well-worn circuit of the Mid-Atlantic jazz clubs. He released a handful of high-quality soul jazz releases, mostly in 1960’s – and mostly on small indie record labels. His colorful “Blue Flame” comes to us courtesy of Johnny “I Can See Clearly Now” Nash’s record label, Jocida.

See the fabulous Funky 16 Corners for an interview with Gene Ludwig.

** A great honor this week to hear from Gene Ludwig himself! The guy is a legend, as well as a tireless proponent of jazz and Jazz Organ. Have a look at his website, too, where you can read an excellent bio – and check out photos, his calender, and his latest CD’s (and discography). A class act all the way. Thanks again, Gene. **

2. The Mark II, Dead (Charay)
The Mark II’s ghostly “Dead” was first released on the Charay record label, one of several record labels associated with Major Bill Smith, a Ft. Worth, Texas record producer, promoter, and manager who styled himself in spirit (and title) on Elvis Presley’s infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The “Maj,” in the tradition of the red-faced hustlers who once populated the independent record business, managed to tap dance around some of the finer points of copyright law; his entire working ethos, in fact, was based on a philosophy of cutting records and distributing them at breakneck speed. Old tracks would be recycled over and over again to fill the missing B-side of a record. New records would be rushed – still obviously unmastered – to the public.

The only problem with “Dead,” with its deep gospel flavor and unstoppable rhythm, is that it is a Major Bill production. Hastily and inexplicably faded out at the 1:48 mark, this track was, in typical Maj fashion, reused as the backing track for at least 3 different vocal releases (with different vocals overdubbed each time, of course), all on Charay Records.

“Dead” was co-written by Moses Dillard, a session guitarist and arranger.

3. Three J’s, Chalito (Part One) (Smogville)
It was the lot of the jazz musician in the 1960s to figure out how, exactly, to accommodate the ascendant rock music. Or whether to accommodate it at all, for that matter. The advent of psychedelia, with its air of experimentalism, must have intrigued at least a few young jazz musicians, of course. But, more than likely, most jazz musicians probably felt more isolated than ever from the younger intellectual audiences who, turning on now to the ear-shattering electricity of rock, might have once turned to jazz.

4. Three J’s, Chalito (Part Two) (Smogville)
Such was not quite the case with the Three J’s, however. An unknown West Coast trio, their sprawling, Latin-tinged “Chalito” smouldered with a spooky intensity and achieved, inadvertently or not, something akin to psychedelia. Or it at least successfully straddled that no man’s land where exotica simply became psychedelia.

I’d guess that “Chalito” was recorded in 1968. I believe, also, that the Smogville label was actually from Oakland, and not Los Angeles as you might suspect.

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15 Responses to Organ moods

  1. td. says:

    ‘Thanks for doing this’ doesn’t even begin to cover it!

    But, thank’s for doing this!

  2. Khthonian says:

    I will have to read your whole back catalogue with posts this awesome!
    And maybe, where appropriate… sample (is that a dirty word?) some of this awesome stuff.
    Thank you thank you thank you thank you!

    (BTW: if you mix, you should check out

    Not to be a Spammer, but “This is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons, where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.”)

    PS: Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  3. mr. nice guy says:

    hey. i just want to chime in out of nowhere to say that i am a pretty religious mp3 blog checker and i have to say that among the millions, you shine like a sun. this is as solid as solid comes. please keep up the good work.

  4. Thanks, all, for your kind words -that kinda response definitely help me keep things operating smoothly.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Cresa Watson did a vocal over the “dead” instro for one – just listened to it on

    instro is better

    but why did they fade it out so quick it just got rolling –

    love the chalito cut – smogville is a good ville

    slow poke morales

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, BRUTAL fade-out on “Dead.” There’s a listing of various permutations on “Dead” from Soul Strut:

    “Dead” 45 versions

    Phyllis Brown “Dead/ Mrs. Bean” (Soft S-1037)
    Edith Jones “I Don’t Care No More/ You Lay So Easy On My Mind” (Le Cam 316)
    Carolyn Sullivan “Dead/ Wow” (Soft 1020)
    Carolyn Sullivan “Dead!/ Wow” (Philips 40507)
    Cresa Watson “Dead/ Alpine Winter” (Charay C-91)
    Cresa Watson “Dead/ Alpine Winter” (Charay 45-700)
    Sons of Moses “Deviled Egg/ Alpine Winter” (Bix BI-102)
    Cutty Sark “Dusty/ Dusty (Inst.)” (Zuma 652)
    Cutty Sark “Dusty/ The Night of Phantom” (Zuma 652)
    Zuma “Dusty/ Inst.” (Zuma 652)

  7. Thomas says:

    I presume Mark II is somehow related to the Faublous Mark III, also from Texas. Can you shed some light?

  8. Hey Thomas – the 2 were different groups as far as I know; there seem to have been a lot of different “Mark” groups floating in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Adding “Mark” to your group’s name was a way of classing things up a bit, methinks.

  9. Gene Ludwig says:

    Hi Little Danny, Thanks for the nice piece on this old recording of mine. I was sort of taken aback when you said I “was” from Pgh., sort of like I wasn’t around anymore. I’m still here, still recording and have out 5 CD’s. You can check my website at for sound clips. Again, thank you, you did a nice job on the mp3 clip. Best regards, Gene Ludwig

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey Lil Danny thanks for the great site,great music and great taste.Loved the Gene Ludwig track.
    Embarased to say I’d never heard of him till I heard Blue Flame on your site,then believe it or not found a copy of his 64 LP The Hot Organ at a local flea market[here in Melbourne, Australia !!!]
    I heard your show Saul Source for the first time it streamed in at 5am on Monday [Melbourne, Australian time].
    Loved it and will try to catch it every week.Can you please play Genes fantastic 65 tune The Vamp on your show
    All the best and thanks again from
    Pete Andrews

  11. Thanks for your kind words, Pete – and thanks for checking out my radio show, too – that’s quite the commitment!

    I once had the opportunity to buy Gene’s “The Vamp” 45 and foolishly passed on it. I’ll try to find a downloadable version in the meantime and get it out there for this Sunday’s (Nov. 5th) show.

  12. Anonymous says:

    hi! does anyone know the year cresa watson performed the song (Charay C-91)? Thanks.

  13. Anonymous says:

    same question as the one above me re: "Dead." Anyone..?

  14. Holly says:

    One more "Dead" version –
    Ede Robin's!

  15. Tchikbaams says:

    Great great singles, hope you will add more Hammond stuff soon.


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