"Hot Coffey in the D” Burnin’ at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge "
“Hot Coffey in the D” is all about the groove, and what a groove it is, fueled by guitarist Coffey, Hammond B-3 organist Lyman Woodward, and drummer Melvin Davis. Coffey was a major session player at Motown who during relatively recent years toured as part of The Funk Brothers band and was a significant portion of the excellent documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.” Back in the day: you could hear Coffey’s contributions alongside classics by The Temptations and the Supremes as well as his solo hit record “Scorpio.”
This new album “Hot Coffey in the D” subtitled: Burnin’ at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge – is a live recording from nearly fifty years ago: 1968 to be precise. It’s previously unreleased. From an audiophile perspective it almost sounds like it was recorded yesterday, as a musical performance it’s superlative – coalescing Jazz, Rock, Funk and Soul music.
And Away We Go: The opening (8:17) “Fuzz” (coauthored by the trio of Coffey, Woodward and Davis) sounds as such with Coffey buzzing and fuzzing into the stratosphere yearning and burning like a supernova – whew! Next is Jimmy Webb’s classic “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (7:09) isn’t treated like the ballad you’d expect instead there’s an upbeat intro that settles into familiar territories but not for long as this trio readily percolates – the only negative is that someone fades the jam, not sure why? The longest track is Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” clocking in at nearly twelve minutes flows through initial customary introductions but not for long – Coffey extrapolates his own interpretations on the familiar theme and making it his own version especially when he stretches out. Also checkout Lyman Woodward’s pulsating syncopations during this “Look of Love” it’s energetic and dynamic – allowing Coffey to explore heady guitar excursions. Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” is colored beautifully with Coffey’s spacey yet coherent guitar lines with solid support from Woodward’s B3 and Melvin Davis’ drumming; note the upshift in tempo that takes off midway – it’s truly magnificent. “The Big D” is the second original written by the trio and while it’s high-paced, it’s not memorable. But “Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)” is sweet, Coffey is sharp and attentive during his intro and categorically rolls on and on with bright solos before turning it over to Woodward adding his own potent greasy essences, tossing it back to an impressive Coffey who shines during alternating solos (to and fro) with Woodward. The closing (traditional) “Wade in the Water” is immediately upbeat and righteous; Coffey rides high taking no prisoners quickly improvising the well-known theme then lifts-off; setting up Woodward for another passionate organism with a brief drum solo from Davis before they take it on home.
This release also includes a fifty-six page booklet, with notes by Zev Feldman and Kevin L. Goins, as well as interviews with Dennis Coffey, Mike Theodore and Melvin Davis, conducted by Kevin Goins. There are also interviews with Bettye LaVette and Clarence Avant plus photos.
In Summary: Those who enjoy open and uninhibited soulful – funky jams will really appreciate the tunes here. Actually these are soulful and funky sixties/seventies love jams that will likely make you yearn for decades long gone by. I thoroughly enjoyed this album – and suspect (whether or not: you are still reading this column) that you will dig it too!
Addendum: Until now: Coffey’s “Hot Coffey In the D” was released on vinyl on Black Friday, 2016 as one of the special Record Store Day limited edition items (only 1,500 were available.)
For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show. Hear new Homegrown Sounds of Blue internet radio shows: http://soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm
Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting. Putignano can be contacted at: BobP@SoundsofBlue.com