Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Boppin’ & Burnin’ - the Rein de Graaff Trio with Herb Geller, Dave Pike, and Benjamin Herman

© -Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

A recent visit to the editorial offices of JazzProfiles by drummer Eric Ineke and pianist Rein de Graaff who were in town to attend the Los Angeles Jazz Institute's four-day tribute to Frank Sinatra on the 100 year anniversary of his birth coupled with the passing on October 3, 2015 of vibraphonist Dave Pike prompted a recollection on my part of this feature that originally posted to the blog on March 9, 2011.

I thought I would re-post it as an homage to Dave and to Herb Geller, who died on December 19, 2013, and as a panegyric on friendships, both old and new.

Having admired their music for many years, it was nice to meet Eric and Rein in person.  After all, us Beboppers have gotta stick together .

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles is very fortunate to have a friend in Holland who keeps us informed about many of that country’s Jazz-related developments.

One of the most recent of these concerns a concert tour entitled Boppin’ and Burnin’.

Under the leadership of Dutch Jazz pianist, Rein de Graaff, the initial concert in the series took place in Groningen on February 24, 2011 and included a front-line made up of Jazz greats Herb Geller and Dave Pike, and Benjamin Herman, an up-and-coming alto sax and flute player who is a native of The Netherlands.

Our friend, who works in Groningen, a city located in Northern Holland, sent along the following review as part of a personal correspondence and he has graciously allowed us to share it.

The photographer Willem Schwertmann posted photographs of the concert on Flickr and you can view them here.

“Hello Steve,

Boppin’ and Burnin’ is the title of the current series of concerts by the Rein de Graaff Trio in the Netherlands: eight concerts with Dave Pike, and one Dutch guest each evening: Benjamin Herman or Tineke Postma or Sjoerd Dijkhuizen. The first concert, last Thursday [February 24th] in Groningen (with Benjamin Herman), is/was the only concert with Herb Geller in the line-up!

During the first set it was clear that Pike, Geller and Herman were searching for the right way to communicate: Geller seemed to be used to being in control, but for example at the end of one of Geller’s solo’s Geller nodded to Benjamin Herman that he was next, but behind Geller’s back it was the energetic Dave Pike who started an inspired solo following Geller’s solo, and Herman had to put his alto sax down quickly. But make no mistake, they all clearly enjoyed themselves playing together, and the second set was much better, with inspired soloing by all six musicians (and Geller somewhat more in control of the proceedings). Marius Beets on bass and Eric Ineke on drums were of course the other members of the Rein de Graaff Trio.

Both sets consisted of well-known standards, among them “Billy’s Bounce, “Star Eyes”, “Ornithology”, “Scrapple From The Apple”, “Hothouse,” “Half Nelson” and “Alone Together”. During the first set Dave Pike had the opportunity to shine as the sole front man on “I Can’t Get Started”, and during the second set Geller played “The Peacocks” completely on his own, no one else on stage; and Benjamin Herman played “Autumn In New York” with just the trio behind him.

It was great listening to and watching Geller (82) and Pike (72) play! I could not help but notice Herman’s big smile as soon as Geller started his first solo of the evening. Geller looked fit and relaxed, and he used a kind of barstool to sit on, but he stood up during most of his solo’s. I also heard and 'recognized' Dave Pike singing along with his own playing (a little bit like you can hear on “Pike’s Peak”). My estimate is that about 200 people attended the concert, very few of them below 35 years of age. Anyway, it was a memorable evening, and the second time I’ve seen Geller play live: the previous time was at the same venue with the same trio, a couple of years ago, with Steve Davis on trombone.

Hope the above gives an impression of the evening.”


Some JazzProfiles readers may recall that the title that Rein de Graaff adopted for this concert series – Boppin’ and Burnin’ – is taken from a 1968 Prestige album by the same name that was recorded under the leadership of Hammond B-3 organist, Don Patterson [Prestige P-7563]. The LP was reissued on CD in 1998 as Original Jazz Classics OJCCD-983-2.

The CD tray plate offers the following background information:

“Don Patterson was an experienced pianist before he took up the organ. Inspired to learn to play the Hammond B-3 after hearing Jimmy Smith, he transferred his piano conception to the electric instrument. The result was a style in which he supported single-note lines with rhythmic comping in the left hand and pedal bass lines of great urgency. His taste, lyricism, and attention to dynamics in no way impeded his ability to swing. Before long, Patterson attracted the attention of first-rank musicians like Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Heath. For this date, his colleagues were trumpet legend Howard McGhee, the young alto sax star Charles McPherson, drummer Billy James, and Pat Martino, a guitarist already on the way to cult status when Boppin' and Burnin' was recorded in 1968. Patterson and friends perform two McGhee originals, two classics of the bop era, and a piece by Thelonious Monk.”

Scott Yanow in his review of the CD on noted: “The quintet date is most notable for the playing of trumpeter Howard McGhee. McGhee, who had not been heard from much on record for a few years, proves to still be in prime form.”

It is regrettable that when fine Jazz Hammond B-3 organist are mentioned such as Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and, of course, more recently, the magnificent Joey De Francesco, that Don Patterson’s name is rarely included amongst them.

For as Mark Gardner points out in his liner notes to Boppin’ and Burnin’:

“First and foremost, putting forward such an eloquent case for you the jury to consider, is Patterson himself. His playing is personal, resourceful, and full of feeling. Don has learned his instrument well and mastered it.

Unlike so many organists he does not parade the instrument's multitudinous effects like some vaudeville conjurer desperately attempting to engage the interest of a restless, yawning audience. His lithe sobs are full of surprises but not cheap trickery, and there lies the difference. In other words, he avoids trying to dupe the listener with false frenzy, yet at the same time Don never plays his ideas in cold, clinical detachment as if he were riveting metal parts.

As an accompanist Patterson also distinguishes himself from the average soul shop treadmill-turners. Instead of seeking to swamp the soloist in an electronic sound storm, Don offers discreet but helpful support to his colleagues. Patterson has said, "I try to keep the piano sound—play piano licks" and this approach is clearly reflected on all his records.”