You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot stop spring.
- Pablo Neruda
And here spring is!
Saxophonist and hot-sauce-afficionado Roger Manins planted the first seed of this record – the sound of Jack McDuff’s squabbling chords and punctuated bass lines will be forever linked with driving to gigs in Auckland in Rog's beat up old Hiace. As the first 2020 Covid lockdown hit Sydney and coincided with a personal upheaval, Green Thumbs the band and the music you hear here burst into bloom, driven by the joy, playfulness and groove so iconic of the Hammond organ.
It was an easy choice of partners, too. One of my oldest mates, Roy Issac and I have played countless an organ trio gig since an early regular stint at a low-ceilinged, often-crammed Oxford Street basement bar and eatery. Roy is also in my opinion one of this country’s finest and most versatile guitarists. Drummer Hamish Stuart needs no introduction as the go to drummer for jazz luminaries like Mike Nock, Barney McAll, Jonathan Zwartz, Cameron Undy, and having worked with legendary names such as Jackie Orszáczky, Ayers Rock and Marcia Hines. Before Green Thumbs we had played together just a few times, and it was never for long enough!
After a few months in the rehearsal lab, we played one show at Sydney’s Foundry 616 and hit the studio. A year on with spring upon us after a winter of lockdown, it's time to set this record free!
Cop Show Rip Off tips the hat to the 70s and Starsky & Hutch. The first tune off the pencil for this band, Green Thumbs is a nod to John Scofield and takes its name ironically from very unsuccessful attempts to grow passionfruit. Roy plays a sublime solo on Repose, something we all need a little of after the last few chaotic years. The late great Dr Lonnie Smith was the embodiment the soul of the Hammond organ, and Lonnie pays homage to his indelible spirit. If It Ain’t Broke is a testimony to keeping it simple…well, mostly. We get our “jazz nerd” on a little bit in Spooky with some irrational meter. After all that, Hymn offers a moment of pause and prayer, with a little bit of Burt Bacharach as its launching pad. Lastly, Fiesta Sequester indulges in the party after a long hiatus.