By: Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs

SOUL MESSAGE BAND – “SOULFUL DAYS” Delmark Label

Chris Foreman, organ; Greg Rockingham, drums; Lee Rothenberg, guitar; Greg Ward & Geof Bradfield, saxophone.

The Soul Message Band makes me want to have a party. They are full of energy, they groove hard and play soulfully. No wonder they have selected their band name to include the word ‘Soul.’ They are the epitome of that! This is their debut recording for the Delmark label and organ master, Chris Foreman, comes out swinging on the Lee Rothenberg tune, “Sir Charles.” I’m immediately captivated by this band because there’s nothing I love more than a jazz organ and guitar performance. Greg Rockingham solidifies the group on drums. He’s a powerhouse. The whipped cream on this sweet combination of driving rhythms and soulful melodies is the addition of saxophone. Greg Ward and Geof Bradfield are each stellar in their own right on reeds. Rockingham and Foreman have history. They were two-thirds of the popular Chicago band, Deep Blue Organ Trio. This organ master and drum connoisseur have played together for over two decades. You can feel their chemistry, dancing from the grooves of this compact disc.

Saxophonist, Geof Bradfield, remembers:

“I was doing a gig with Earland and Lonnie Smith at Chicago’s Green Dolphin Street in 1997. Great as those two masters were, a highlight was Chris Foreman showing up and bringing the house down. Earland was so excited by the groove Rock (Greg Rockingham) and Chris were hitting, he even borrowed my tenor and played a couple choruses.”

I was excited by Chris Foreman’s organ and this entire group of proficient and soulful musicians. You can immediately hear the influence of the late, great Jimmy Smith, but it was Jimmy McGriff who shared the organ bench with Foreman for years at the New Apartment Lounge on Chicago’s South-side. So, both organ masters played a big part in inspiring Chris Foreman’s technique and appreciation of the organ. Still, he brings his own awesome energy and emotion to these tunes. Lee Rothenberg is spicy and provocative on guitar, holding the rhythm down and always ready to take a spotlight solo. Every cut on this production is excellently produced.

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