Sid Gribetz presents a five hour radio broadcast celebrating the career of organist Richard “Groove” Holmes this Sunday, March 12, 2023, from 2-7 PM on “Jazz Profiles” on WKCR.
Groove Holmes was a giant among the generation of jazz organists who brought the Hammond B-3 sound to artistic prominence and popular appeal in the late 1950's and 1960's. Within that genre, Groove’s style was informed by an especially loping, easy going rhythm and toe-tapping grace that lent an element of joyful swing to his presentation of standards, funk, and the blues.
Born in 1931 in Camden, New Jersey, Holmes came of age with the “Philly soul”. His first break came when Les McCann brought him to California in 1960 to perform in the vibrant LA entertainment scene and to record with Pacific Jazz Records. Another breakthrough was the 1965 Prestige recording of “Misty”, a jukebox hit that really put Holmes on the map. The Charleston-inflected beat transformed the Garner ballad and easily served as a “signature sound” of Holmes the organist.
Holmes played with many tough tenor saxophone legends in the organ combo setting, but he also had the power to perform both backing, and backed-by, big bands. Additionally, he accompanied vocalists ranging from Jimmy Witherspoon to Lou Rawls.
Holmes died of cancer at the age of 60 in 1991.
The program will explore his classic records on Pacific Jazz from the early 1960's, Prestige in the mid and late 1960's, and Muse Records from his later years, as well as some less familiar goodies.