First, a personal history of the group by Bob DeVos:
In the late 1960s, I was in my teens touring as the guitarist for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and discovering jazz guitar. I was living in New Jersey, and went to the Key Club in Newark, NJ to hear Pat Martino. He was playing with a Hammond organist from Pittsburgh, Gene Ludwig. I went back to hear them every night that I was not on the road. Soon after, I first heard Billy James live with Don Patterson at the Stearington House in nearby Montclair and on records with Sonny Stitt. At the time, I could only dream of playing with musicians like these but within six months I was playing the same clubs with legendary organist Trudy Pitts. Martino had been Trudy?s guitarist some time before.
Save for Patterson, I went on to play with all these musicians; Sonny Stitt in the late 70s and with Pat on a Top Ten 2002 tribute release to Charles ?The Mighty Burner? Earland, my great friend and musical associate.
As for Gene and Billy, Dorthaan Kirk of jazz station WBGO in Newark was organizing an organ festival at Symphony Hall nearby. She wanted me to play with two of the organists. She correctly assumed that I would play with Earland, then gave me my choice of the other organist to accompany. I chose Gene for his high degree of musicality. Jack Kreisberg of the Blue Note came to the festival and we three (Gene, Jack and I) forged a relation that led to an on-going series of gigs at The Blue Note in NYC. Gene tapped Billy James for the gigs. Meanwhile, Jack invited Joe Morabia of Loose Leaf and Blues Leaf Records to hear us. The result was Joe?s bringing out The Groove ORGANization (2002) with Gene as the leader and DeVos? Groove Guitar, just released, with my taking that role. James? Groove DRUMS with Billy at the helm will be recorded soon.
Now, more about the group and the players and excerpts from some of the reviews of
The Groove ORGANization on Blues Leaf.
Groove ORGANization has played to sell out audiences at many venues including The Blue Note in NYC and can be heard on the critically acclaimed, best selling CD by the same name, The Groove ORGANization, for Blues Leaf Records. Their second CD, DeVos Groove Guitar, was released June, 2003. They record James Groove DRUMS this summer. The Trio recently performed at the WBGO JAZZATHON at Birdland and will be recording for SIRIUS Radio after their Blue Note performance this July.
With a forty-year professional career, Pittsburgh based Hammond B3 Master, Gene Ludwig, has released a new CD every other year since 1998, totaling about a dozen as a leader. His Soul Serenade on Blues Leaf was a best seller. He has worked with Arthur Prysock and has played and recorded with Pat Martino, Sonny Stitt, and Red Holloway-Plas Johnson, and has a new release due out in 2004 with Jimmy Ponder. He has collaborated often with fellow B3 organists Jack McDuff and Joey DeFrancesco. He has been and will continue to be one of this country’s most passionate exponents of Jazz Organ; “I have an A-100 Hammond in my game room and I keep two B-3’s in my garage… I’m ready to go when I get my calls”. In a May 2001 profile, Jazzis hailed him as the ?finest mainstream jazz organ player alive.?
Guitarist-composer-arranger Bob DeVos has been recently anointed as ?the thinking man?s guitar hero? in Allaboutjazz. Bob has played and recorded with Hammond B3 Organ legends Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford, Richard ?Groove? Holmes-Sonny Stitt, Joey DeFrancesco, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, among others. Active on the NYC scene, Bob can also be heard as a regular member of legendary bassist Ron McClure?s forward thinking quartet and in duo with Mike Richmond, as well as heading his own quartet. His debut CD Breaking the Ice (Savant) with Charles Earland garnered rave reviews. His current CDs include Keepers of the Flame: The Charles Earland Tribute Band (HighNote), a top ten airplay release and the well received MATCH POINT (Ron McClure Qt.-Steeplechase) which features his compositions. Age of Peace (Steeplechase) with the Ron McClure Qt. will be released in August, 2003.
Legendary drummer Billy James has played with the best, starting at age 15 with Lionel Hampton. He was the long time drummer for Sonny Stitt, Don Patterson, Eddie Harris, Houston Person, Eddie ?Lockjaw? Davis and Pat Martino. Appearing on dozens of classic recordings, including Patterson’s Boppin’ and Burnin’ and Opus De Don (Prestige), James is the dean of soul-jazz drummers. He handles straight-ahead rhythms and funky grooves with equal aplomb.
Here is what critic David Orthmann writes about this group (Allaboutjazz Magazine):
?Groove ORGANization thrives within the broad, well-trod parameters of soul-jazz. Gene Ludwig, Bob DeVos and Billy James pull off the admirable feat of making music that has an aura of good times, yet is substantial and thought provoking. The overall sound is blues and soul saturated, minus any hint of clich