Ain’t No Sunshine (Live in Seattle)
Vinyl Release Date: April 20, 2024 / CD + Digital: May 17, 2024
Label: Real to Reel


Recorded live at The Gallery in Seattle on September 13, 1972, Ain’t No Sunshine (Live in Seattle) is a must-hear document of Brother Jack McDuff’s stellar creative output in the early-1970’s. After recording over 50 albums throughout the course of the 1960’s, McDuff’s sound at the time of this recording is perhaps at its very peak - uncompromisingly bluesy, masterfully arranged, and expertly articulated by his tight-knit ensemble. Leading from the organ chair, McDuff is joined by Leo Johnson on tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet, Dave Young on tenor and soprano saxophone, Vinnie Corrao on guitar, and Ron Davis on drums.

This deluxe edition 180-gram double LP is produced by Cory Weeds for Reel to Real Recordings, an archival imprint of Cellar Music Group. This notable vinyl package will be released on April 20, 2024 as part of Record Store Day. The package includes an extensive booklet with essays by Weeds, Andrew Scott, and Brian Charette as well as interviews with George Benson, Larry Goldings and Delvon Lamar. 

Brother Jack McDuff is perhaps most associated with his dynamic quartet from the mid-1960s featuring George Benson, Red Holloway and Joe Dukes waxed some of the most iconic organ records ever recorded. The 1972 incarnation of McDuff’s ensemble was a short-lived and seldom-recorded grouping comprised of artists hand-picked by McDuff to execute his exacting arrangements and play with the requisite drive and improvisatory fire that the bandleader demanded. The result was lightning in a bottle.

The album begins with the irresistible groove of “Theme From The Electric Surfboard”. A true feature for the bandleader, the song begins with a bass-line from McDuff’s left-hand - showcasing his ability to create seamless, tasteful bass-lines completely independent from the melodic exploration and harmonic refrains of his right-hand. With the fullness of a big band, the group’s frontline and McDuff’s chord voicings seamlessly meld together to create a full sonic palette. The bandleader takes a ferocious solo, each note crunching under the threshold of a ring modulator, creating a sound that is funky and otherworldly. 

Seldom do you find a band that grooves so hard that they can bring a modern flair to a nursery rhyme. Funky, groovin’ and at times discordant, the bandleader interprets “Three Blind Mice” in a way that only McDuff can. Cory Weeds remarks, “I love it when McDuff pumps the bass and pushes things as hard as he does on ‘Three Blind Mice’ from this recording. His bass lines are so clear, and McDuff has this unique way of pushing the time, without rushing.”

In-keeping with the soul-jazz tradition, McDuff delivers an exploratory improvisational rendition of a popular song of the day. Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” had been released just the year prior, and had reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. McDuff’s take on this R&B classic features a fantastic flute solo from Johnson, and rousing improvisation from the bandleader. Side B continues on a quieter note with McDuff’s version of the standard “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”. 

Side C features a fiery ensemble piece (of unknown origin)  featuring solos from each member, this tune leads into McDuff’s jubilant composition “The Jolly Black Giant”. This soulful blues features evocative solos from McDuff, Corrao, Johnson, Young and an unknown trumpeter. 

Side D begins with McDuff’s sultry, introspective “Middle Class Folk Song”, showing a decidedly different side of the organist’s compositional mind. The album concludes with the bright, Latin-tinged “6:30 In The Morning” featuring Leo Johnson on flute and Dave Young on soprano saxophone. 

Regarding this historic release, producer Cory Weeds remarks “there is something about it – its looseness, its archival nature, the imperfections, the vibe that is created as this road-weary ensemble works out arrangements and makes mistakes, but never compromises laying on the thick and heavy groove – that makes it a truly special Reel to Real Recordings organ release.”

"An incredible live set bolstered by the project’s overall exquisite presentation." Check out the full review here.

"You’ll immediately recognize where this album is taking you, and honestly, this album is totally legendary!" Check out the full review here.