Dennis Coffey “One Night at Morey’s 1968” www.OmnivoreRecordings.com
“One Night at Morey’s: 1968” is the performance by guitarist Dennis Coffey, organist Lyman Woodard, and drummer Melvin Davis. The trio performed at Morey’s, in Detroit, Michigan, every week. There are no vocals; the performance is strictly instrumental, which is more than fine by me.
The Bobby Womack/Wilson Pickett “I’m a Midnight Mover” was a 1968 minor hit for Pickett, with Coffey sounding a bit like his southern counterpart Steve Cropper on this Memphis/Atlantic Records classic. The Beatles, the Beatles, the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” is treated with a fairly lengthy jam intro. I was (pleasantly) caught off guard when Coffey (suddenly) shifts to the clearly identifiable opening lines of the Lennon/McCartney classic for a mind expanding thirteen minute plus workout/extravaganza. Supplementary southern soul is served from the Crescent City’s elites: the Meters “Cissy Strut” is covered in fine fashion. This “Cissy Strut” quickly breaks loose from the main theme unraveling into an all-out ensemble blast that finds all three musicians coagulating and coalescing into a mighty fine ready for gumbo roux.
Next stop is New York City’s late sixties finest; The Rascals “Groovin’” served Motor City style, where I’m certain Cavaliere and Brigati would have approved of Coffey and company’s treatment and groove. The original “Burning Spear” appeared in 1967 for Cadet by Richard Evans’ Soulful Strings group that included Phil Upchurch’s guitar. This “Burning Spear” is blown into the stratosphere with Coffey’s relentless and scorching guitar exhibition that ensues (as the longest track) at just shy of fourteen minutes; whew! (*) “Burning Spear” is one of the highlights of this fine set. The Isley’s “It’s Your Thing” is buzzed and burnt with Coffey’s scorched guitar as they segue into this bands “Union Station,” causing another “whew”, where my only complaint is that it is faded and shorter than I was hoping for. Coffey and co-producer Mike Theodore’s appropriately titled “Mindbender” deserves an acid flashback warning label; as the trio rocks on out. Even though Coffey, Woodward and Davis are credited with their “Big City Lights” they sound an awful lot like their Stax Brothers: Booker T. & the MG’s, especially Woodard’s greasy Memphis like B3, and Coffey’s Cropper infused guitar as Melvin Davis attentively and smartly pounds out. Unexpectedly the set closer is Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce” where it’s neat to hear the band’s dexterity as they transform themselves into a top-shelf jazz organ trio.
“One Night At Morey’s: 1968” bookends last year’s “Hot Coffey In The D: Burnin’ At Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge” released on Resonance Records. None of the tracks from that previous release are covered here, and all tracks are previously unreleased. By the way, according to the included fact sheet; you can still find Dennis Coffey (who is seventy-seven) playing every Tuesday night in Detroit. How cool is that?
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