“Listen – Wildare Express – A River’s Invitation – MP3″
I hope the end of the week finds you all well enough to sit up, and dig some swinging, soulful Hammond organ (a condition I find myself in the grips of almost constantly).
This time out, the Hammond in question is being worked masterfully by one of the greats of the funk and soul organ, Mr Reuben Wilson and his group the Wildare Express.
Wilson, who was born in Oklahoma, but grew up in California where he was influenced by Billy Larkin and Richard Groove Holmes.
Wilson moved to New York in 1966 and formed the Wildare Express (also billed as the Wildare Trio) with drummer Tommy Derrick and a guitarist who’s name has been lost to the ages (it doesn’t help that he wasn’t credited on the group’s album). Wildare Express recorded a number of 45s and one full length album for the Brunswick label, all of them featuring Wilson on the organ.
The group’s sound is pretty pure soul jazz, covering a number of genre standards (like today’s selection) as well as contemporary pop material (like the b-side of this 45, a cover of ‘Walk On By’).
‘A River’s Invitation’, written and originally recorded by the great Percy Mayfield. The song is an unusual one, combining an uplifting melody with vaguely macabre lyrics (in which the river invites the protagonist, in search of a lost love, to drown himself). Though there have been dozens of vocal covers of the song, I’ve mainly known the song over the years as an instrumental – including another organ version by Leon Haywood that I posted here some years ago.
The Wildare Express version moves along at a nice clip, opening with a statement of the melody on the sax (no idea who it is) and rhythm guitar, before Wilson comes in blazing about halfway through the record.
I’ve always found Reuben Wilson to be an underrated player. He had a great style, combining a solid jazz feel with a soulful edge. He did do a lot of soul and funk cover material, which 40 years on endears him to crate diggers (his records have been sampled a number of times) but may have been responsible for a position in the second rank of Hammond masters.
After the dissolution of the Wildare Express, Wilson signed with Blue Note and recorded five albums, before moving to Groove Merchant in the early 70s for another three, and then to Cadet for one album in 1975. He has spent the last 30+ years recording for a variety of independent labels.
As far as I know none of the Wildare Express material has been reissued, and aside from the tune I’m posting here, you’ll have to go out and dig for the rest.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Monday.
NOTE: It’s a little late to catch the show from the beginning, but don’t forget to fall by Viva Internet Radio Tonight at 9PMEST for the latest edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Show. You can always check out the show (and many pastshows) in the archive.