Plas Johnson/Red Holloway,
"Keep That Groove Goin"
Milestone Records.

Plas Johnson, tenor, Red Holloway, tenor,
Melvin Sparks, guitar, Gene Ludwig, B3, Kenny
Washington, drums. Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s
studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April, 2001.

It’s too bad they don’t make enough recordings like this anymore, as it really wonderful to see this era of music still alive and kicking. Enjoy these two tenor titans, Johnson & Holloway, as they wail and sail along with our own NY area legend Melvin Sparks who shares much of the spotlight on guitar.

This albums title track by Holloway’s, opens the disc in pedal to the metal fashion, with hot opening lines from Johnson, straight ahead blowing from Sparks, and a roaring sax break from Holloway. Coleman Hawkins, often recorded, “Stuffy” is next, and serves as a excellent vehicle for all the artist to take short and very tasty swinging solos. Arnet Cobb’s, “Go Red Go” takes us back to those 40’s/50’s pioneer days of R&B, and these guys nail this track to track to the wall! Pay close attention as Holloway & Johnson trade tenor licks under a solid foundation from Sparks, Ludwig, and Washington. Holloway’s “Bretheren” has that late 60’s Blue Note label feel, and even a smattering of early, uncluttered 70’s CTI recordings. Check out Melvin paying homage to the likes of a young George Benson and Grant Green, on this third quarter twentieth century sound. It’s blues time, on my favorite track on the album, Johnson’s “Pass the Gravy”, which really lets Sparks stretch out with some of nicest blues work that I have ever heard him record, followed by neat tenor passages from Plas & Red . “Jammin’ for Mr. Lee”, also written by Johnson, is a fascinating swinging affair, once again given ample time for the great players on this CD to show off their superb soloing and attentive listening abilities. The classic, “Dream a Little Dream of Me”
closes the album in a slow glowing swing, that will no doubt bring back warm memories, a smile, and perhaps a gleeful tear to the listener’s eye.

Alright, if you have enjoyed recent recordings by Greg Piccolo, Joe Houston, Sax Gordon, and/or older records by Stanley Turrentine, Bill Dogget/Clifford Scott, Sil Austin, Red Prysock, and Sam the Man Taylor, this disc is for you! What also makes “Keep that Groove Goin” so cool, is the “as always” above par recording process and sound from Rudy Van Gelder’s studios in Englewood Cliffs NJ. May Rudy’s recording studios live on forever! Finally, special kudos to the man who more than thirty years ago signed Melvin Sparks to (sister Co. of Milestone) the Prestige record label, producer Bob Porter. Who continues to record music of this style and caliber, keeping it in the forefront of the twenty-first century!

I highly recommended, “Keep that Groove Goin”. Happy listening.

Bob Putignano, President NY Blues & Jazz, and radio
host @ WFDU’s, “Sounds of Blue”.