The Hammond Organ trio is one of my favorite genres of jazz. I’ve loved the sound of the instrument since I heard it in Church and in rock bands in the late 60’s. So in 1984 when Hammond organist Rich VanSant called to ask if I would be interested in starting a jam session at Harling’s Upstairs, a midtown Bar on Main Street in Kansas City, I was immediately on board. This CD documents the jazzier side of a musical relationship that spans the years since then. The jam at Harling’s still happens every Saturday afternoon almost 20 years later. Rich still plays a Hammond B3 with a Leslie. I still dig it. It’s a classic sound.
Everybody always asks, "Who’s Harold?" Without going into irrelevant family history, Harold is my maternal grandfather (1910 – 1992) who, after one too many bumps on the head as a young man, lived most of his adult life in 7/4 time. "Channeling Harold" is an inside joke. It’s a term my brothers and I use as an explanation for why we occasionally do something funny &/or crazy that’s potentially life threatening and involves the use of either firearms or lawnmowers. The main section of the song, "Channeling Harold" came to me intact, in a dream. I then crafted the bridge to make it more complete. Since the song came in a dream, and since it has two bars of 7/4 at the beginning of it, it just seemed appropriate to title it after my grandfather. I’d like to think Harold sent it to me, but he was a Johnny Cash fan.
All the other tunes on this CD are standards that we play at Harling’s on occasion. After the initial sessions at Berry Music, the tunes that made the cut left 17 minutes of time on the CD. I decided to record two or three guitar/vocal duets to contrast with the trio tracks. These duo tracks were recorded live in my studio and the solos were overdubbed later.
"When Sunny Gets Blue" is a tune I’ve always enjoyed playing but I hadn’t really sung it much. When I worked with Kevin Mahogany in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s he liked to do it as a very up samba. I loved doing it that way as a player but when I sing it, for me, the lyric content demands a ballad treatment.
What can I say about Mama Ray? She came on board at Harling’s in 1986 and has fronted the band ever since. She is truly one of a kind, with a colorful history (to put it mildly!) and a heart of gold. We recorded "My Romance" live in the studio 5 or 6 times and just picked the best take. I overdubbed the solo a week later.
"Waltz for Debbie" is a tune I’ve loved ever since I heard Tony Bennett sing it on the duo record he did with Bill Evans. Of course, it has personal meaning for me since I have two daughters who dance professionally (ballet and modern, not the other kind). Watching my dancing daughters grow up right in front of my eyes is the main threat to my denial of advancing geezerdom! By the way, I know I didn’t do it as a waltz. (Rich said, "Waltz?!) What you hear is the way it came out that day so that’s the way it is!
A very special "thanks" goes out to Bill Crain at BRC Audio who went waaaay above and beyond the call of duty in the mixing process. Thanks a lot, Bill.