Charles Kynard, Jazz Organist Feb 20 1933 – Jul 8, 1979

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The Soul Brotherhood

The name “Charles Kynard” may not be instantly familiar (except, of course, to those cognoscenti of Sixties-Seventies organ grooves at their best), but the two long-deleted albums joined herein can stand with anything in the soul-jazz field. The Soul Brotherhood and Reelin’ with the Feelin,‘ recorded five months apart in 1969, place gifted organist Kynard (1933-1979) in some of the fastest company of his too-short career. The collective personnel, including trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxists David “Fathead” Newman and Wilton Felder, and guitarists Grant Green (like Kynard, a St. Louis native) and Joe Pass, is in top form for two programs of fully realized, mostly blues ‘n’ groove-oriented compositions, rather than just “head” arrangements. An interesting sidelight: longtime L.A. studio ace Carol Kaye (heard herein on electric bass), contributed a tune that may well be the first by an American writer to use the word “reggae” in its title.

The Soul Brotherhood, Big City, Jealjon, Piece O’ Pisces, Blue Farouq, Reelin’ with the Feelin’, Soul Reggae, Slow Burn, Boogalooin’, Be My Love, Stomp

with Wilton Felder, Grant Green, Paul Humphrey, Carol Kaye, Jimmy Lewis, Blue Mitchell, David “Fathead” Newman, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker

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Your Mama Don’t Dance (Mainstream 73)
Reviewed by: Motown67
I was able to find a nice sealed copy of this great album at a local shop recently. Paul Humphrey and Chuck Rainey accompanied Kynard, amongst others. Things get off on the right foot with a drum break by Humphrey that opens a cover of Superstition. The song is played a little slower than the original, but that’s for the good as it creates a nice groove for Kynard, Arthur Adams on guitar and either George Bohanon or David Roberts on trombone to solo over. The World Is A Ghetto is another excellent funky Jazz track that has the trombone introduce a dark and moody solo by Kynard. That’s followed by Momma Jive, which was used by Black Sheep for Gimme The Finga. Then they bust out with a cover of Joe Quarterman’s I Got So Much Trouble. My God, that first side alone is enough to keep you happy for months. That’s not all however. On the second side Kynard and company get down with Zambezi that’s just a jam, then slows it down a bit with Summer Breeze and finally You’ve Got It Bad Girl.


Charles Kynard (Mainstream 71)
Reviewed by: Motown67
One of the best artists Mainstream ever signed, and one of the best albums they ever put out. The opening track is entitled El Toro Poo Poo. With a title like that how could you go wrong? Kynard lets loose with a series of funky rhythms like the first song, and some slow jams like She, which was sampled by Blackalicious, to provide a record that ends as well as it starts. Other noteworthy tunes to listen to are Greeze, Greens and a rousing cover of It’s Too Late that also sports a drum and conga break. Supporting Kynard on organ are Carol Kaye, of Axelrod fame, King Errison, Ernie Watts, Billy Fender and James Gadson.


Woga (Mainstream 72)
Reviewed by: Motown67
Woga highlights the funkiness of Charles Kynard’s style of Jazz playing. From Little Ghetto Boy to Hot Sauce to Slop Jar to Rock Steady, that has a drum break, to Name The Missing Word to the closing Shout, Kynard’s band, which consisted of the likes of Chuck Rainey and Paul Humphrey, laid down a series of funky rhythms over which Kynard and the horns could solo over.


Legends of Acid Jazz

 Charles Kynard was the first musician signed to Prestige Records by producer Bob Porter. While the Kansas City born, Los Angeles based organist never achieved the fame of some of his label-mates, he did cut several classics of the soul-jazz genre during his brief time with the company. This compilation brings together Kynard’s two funkiest albums, both recorded in 1970. Afro-Disiac, which The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD says “is surely Kynard’s best album,” features the legendary, highly influential Grant Green on guitar. Boogaloo drum daddy Bernard “Pretty” Purdie keeps the grooves tight throughout Afro-Disiac and sits in for Idris Muhammad on one track of Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui.

Afro-Disiac, Bella Donna, Trippin’, Odds On, Sweetheart, Chanson du Nuit, Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People), Winter’s Child, Zebra Walk, Something, Change Up

with Houston Person, Grant Green, Jimmy Lewis, Bernard Purdie, Rusty Bryant, Virgil Jones, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad


“…I spent some inspiring evenings hanging out with Charles Kynard, the great organ player, who actually had left KC some years before but used to come back occasionally. He was one of the best organ players I ever got to play with.”  Pat Matheny 1995

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Charles Kynard (1935-79) was a gifted jazz and gospel organist. By day, he maintained a full-time career working with kids with special needs and taught piano between gigs and his job. He only recorded infrequently, doing sessions and two albums under his own name for Pacific Jazz in the early 1960s and several sessions and three records under his own name for Mainstream Records during 1971-74. But it is, perhaps, the four records he did for Prestige between 1968 and 1970 that the organist is best known for. Legends of Acid Jazz combines the last two of these, Afro-Disiac and Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui.

On both, Kynard showcases his remarkable ability to exploit the heck out of an interesting groove. The best of his originals usually stick to variations of the blues or out-and-out boogaloos. But it’s the machine-gun attack of his left hand and the churning grind he maintains with his feet – despite the ever-presence of a bassist – that separates Kynard’s playing from the crowd. The counterpoint he offers with his right hand is what usually puts the fun in his funk.

Afro-Disiac pits the organist in a quintet with tenor staple Houston Person and elevated by the presence of guitarist Grant Green. This was a reunion of sorts for Kynard and Green, the two having appeared together on 1968’s The Soul Brotherhood. The originals, mostly by Kynard’s school chum Richard Fritz, and Kynard’s eloquent cushioning offer an ideal environment for the guitarist – much more favorable than Green’s own recordings from the period.

Kynard is more of a featured presence on the Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui, adding his electric piano stylings to “Winter’s Child” and the dance floor classic, “Zebra Walk.” Here, Kynard revels in a sextet that features the much-lamented honker Rusty Bryant, trumpeter Virgil Jones and guitarist Melvin Sparks. The tunes aren’t as memorable as the first session and the playing doesn’t have the edge or energy that Kynard could generate elsewhere (for evidence, check out the monster Reelin’ with the Feelin’, which is paired with Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui on the British BGP CD). But this “legend of acid jazz” is worth hearing and exploring and for fans of guitarist Grant Green, the first six songs are required listening.

Songs:  Afro-Disiac; Bella Donna; Trippin’; Odds On; Sweetheart; Chanson du Nuit; Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People); Winter’s Child; Zebra Walk; Something; Change Up.

Players:  Charles Kynard: organ, electric piano; Houston Person, Rusty Bryant: tenor sax; Virgil Jones: trumpet; Grant Green, Melvin Sparks: guitar; Jimmy Lewis: Fender bass; Idris Muhammad, Bernard Purdie: drums.

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