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Friday, 27 September 2019

Doc Bagby / Luis Rivera - Battle Of The Organs

Side 1 (Doc Bagby):
01) Hay Ride
02) Soft One
03) Grinding
04) Deep Purple
05) I Want A Little Girl
06) Memories Of You

Side 2 (Luis Rivera):
01) Tangerine
02) Fat Stocking
03) Heavy Hips
04) Bobby Sox
05) Manhattan
06) Milamo Blues

1980s Sing reissue of King LP 631 which was originally issued in 1959. Four of the six Doc Bagby tracks were originally issued on King singles in 1955 while the two remaining solo tracks made their first appearance on this LP. Of the featured Luis Rivera tracks five were originally released on Federal singles in 1955, while one track received its first release on this LP.

At the time these recordings were made Doc Bagby was a member of the Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Trio. The four "Doc Bagby Quartet" sides (Grinding, Hay Ride, Soft One, I Want A Little Girl) were cut at a Lockjaw Davis Trio session on April 20th 1955, with guitarist Clifford Bush stepping in to make the trio a quartet. The two unreleased solo tracks were cut at a Lockjaw Davis Trio session on August 16th, 1955.

For more tracks from these Lockjaw Davis sessions and lots more info on Lockjaw see these posts on the blog -

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis - Modern Jazz Expressions

New Mega links have been added to the above posts.

Harold "Doc" Bagby was a native of Philadelphia who started his musical career at the age of fifteen when he took piano lessons at Central High School with one of his classmates being Bill Doggett. In the 1930s he was leading his own small groups around Philly and went on to lead a big band. After war service he returned to Philly but the economic climate was not condusive to keeping a big band going and Doc soon found himself leading a "cocktail combo" in the lounges of the Philadelphia area.

When the New York record label Gotham relocated to Philadelphia in 1948, Doc was appointed its musical director, arranging and playing on numerous R&B and Gospel sessions from the late 1940s into the 1950s. The first recordings on which he was named artist were released on Gotham in 1952 /53. On these sides he played organ and was accompanied by guitarist Billy Butler but it must be said that it's difficult to get excited by these tracks.

In 1954 Doc teamed up with jazz tenor sax man Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and drummer Charlie Rice to form a successful sax / organ / drums trio which was an early template for what later became known as "Soul Jazz." In 1956 Doc split from the Lockjaw combo and was signed by Okeh with whom he recorded R&B sides up until early 1958.

The success of Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk" in 1956 set off a craze for R&B based instrumentals. Doc's Okeh sides featured Mickey "Guitar" Baker and occasionally Everett Barksdale or Billy Muir on guitar and tenor saxes by Seldon Powell and Ellworth Gooding. "Dumplin's" was a hit for Bagby in 1957, climbing not only the R&B chart but also reaching the lower end of the pop chart. A follow up LP "Honky Tonk In Silk" also sold well. Doc played organ on Sil Austin's big instrumental hit "Slow Walk" which reached number 17 on the pop charts in November 1956 and also on Austin's Wing LP "Slow Walk Rock" the cover of which informed the public that this was "an album for 'hip dancers'."

Calling hipsters everywhere - Doc's in the house

The success of "Dumplin's" led to appearances in Rock 'n' Roll stage shows including with Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Lee Andrews & The Hearts, The Clovers and Chuck Berry. In the late '50s and early '60s Doc recorded a series of singles for a variety of small labels, all in an R&B / Rock 'n' Roll style. The Jasmine 2CD set "Smooth Organ, Groove Organ" devotes its second disc to 24 of these small label sides. The first disc has 24 sides from Gotham, King and Okeh. Excellent notes by Bob Fisher. Recommended!

Doc's last single seems to have been a 1966 release on the Newark label - "I'll Always Be In Love With You" / "These Foolish Things" by Doc Bagby and his Organ Trio. There were a couple of LPs in the mid to late '60s - "A Place In The Sun"- The Doc Bagby Hammond Organ Trio (Current S/475) and "The Hits Of The Drifters" - Doc Bagby at The Hammond Organ (Power S 9008).

Doc Bagby died in New York in September 1970 at the comparatively young age of 51.

Information on Luis Rivera is harder to come by, however the sleevenotes of his 1961 Imperial LP "Filet Of Soul" can be found in a review posted on the "Fat Sound" blog here:

The post includes a link to a YouTube video which has excerpts of all the LP tracks. Luis was born in San Antonio, Texas, spent most of his early life in Ohio, was a captain in the US Army Air Force, and after the war he studied psychology at the University of Miami. He gave up a position as a clinical psychologist to follow a musical career, starting out with the band of Ivory Joe Hunter, then joining the Roy Milton band when they came through Texas. He accompanied the band to Los Angeles which became his home base.

Luis had a short spell with the Flip Phillips Quintet and then worked with Billie Holiday for two and a half years including tours to Europe and Asia. There was also work as a session musician around LA, including a 1951 /52 session with Joe Houston for Modern,  an Earl Bostic session for King in June 1953, a Linda Hopkins session for Federal in February 1954, and a Linda Hayes session for Hollywood and King in January 1955.

The sides on this LP which were recorded in November and December 1954 were Luis's first releases under his own name. His next release was the "Filet Of Soul" Imperial LP which was recorded in December 1960 and January 1961.

 Billboard, 20th March 1961

The "Filet Of Soul" sleevenotes finish with the information that "Luis may be currently heard at one of Los Angeles' main jazz spots, Dynamite Jackson's Lounge."

Another jazz organist at Dynamite Jackson's

Luis's last recording as named artist was for a Cash LP CLP-1002) sometime in the early 1960s - "Las Vegas" and thereafter the trail fades ...

Vegas, Baby! Vegas!

It's safe to assume that as Luis was a war veteran he is probably no longer an active musician at least here on Earth, for he may well be playing the eternal gig in God's own organ lounge in the sky.

Original Issue Of The Trax on "Battle Of The Organs"

Doc Bagby Quartet: Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (tenor sax); Harry "Doc" Bagby (organ); Clifford Bush (guitar); Charlie Rice (drums).

Grinding / Hayride - Doc Bagby Quartet - King 4804 - released June 1955

I Want A Little Girl / Soft One - Doc Bagby Quartet - King 4823 - released September 1955

Doc Bagby solo tracks "Deep Purple" and "Memories Of You" first released on King LP 631 in 1959.

Luis Rivera: on "Tangerine" "Fat Stocking" "Milano Blues" - Bill Gaither (tenor sax); Luis Rivera (organ); Ulysses Livingstone (guitar); Gene Wright (bass); Albert Bartee (drums).
On "Bobby Sox" "Manhattan" " Heavy Hips" - Calvin Ponder replaces Gene Wright on bass; add Don Johnson on tumba.

Tangerine / Fat Stockin' - Luis Rivera - Federal 12207 - released January 1955

Heavy Hips / Ruby - Luis Rivera - Federal 12211 - released February 1955

Bobby Sox / Manhattan - Luis Rivera - Federal 12226 - released July 1955

Milano Blues first released on King LP 631 in 1959.

Four Luis Rivera singles were released on Federal. The single not listed above was -

Don't Take Your Love from Me / Please Be Kind - Federal 12215- released April 1955.


Bob Mac said...

Thanks BW...I'm not really familiar with either of these artists but looking forward to checking this out.

george said...

Many thanks, boogiewoody!

George said...

Hmm, these names as new for me as well - thanks for posting!

Billy K said...

Love the organ. Let them fight!

Apesville said...

correct LP sleeve & labels go Dean