"YOU OUGHT to Think About Me" marks a departure for veteran organist Jimmy McGriff, but for blues fans, happily, it's a small one.
Although he sits down at the piano briefly, McGriff mostly concentrates on after-hours grooves and soulful arrangements custom-made for his Hammond B3 organ. Saxophonist Hank Crawford, McGriff's frequent collaborator, is absent, but Bill Easley's soprano, alto and tenor saxophones often act as a similarly earthy foil, along with the other horns (trumpeter Stanton Davis and trombonist Dennis Wilson) and the sly, pungent solos contributed by McGriff's under-rated guitarist Rodney Jones. Easley's "One Minute 'Til Six" and Jones's "McGriff's Blues," in fact, are among the album's highlights, the sort of insinuating melodies that give mood music a good name, but the real standout is a riffing tribute to Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
The album's pop entries are less enjoyable, either because they fall short of other versions -- McGriff's "America the Beautiful" for example, is no match for the arrangement recorded by Ray Charles -- or because "Over the Rainbow," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and the like come across sounding rhythmically stiff compared with the rest of the album.
JIMMY MCGRIFF -- "You Ought to Think About Me" (Headfirst). Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.