Monthly Archives: March 2020

Living Soul

Richard “Groove” Holmes is one of my favorite B3 players.  He recorded about 50 albums during his career, including a couple classic “double trio” albums with Jimmy McGriff.  He certainly lives up to his nickname – every time I put on one of his albums my head starts nodding.

This song is a good example of how Richard uses the full range of the organ to build up excitement over the course of a solo.  He starts out walking a bassline with his left hand, and ends up on the foot pedals at the very low end of the instrument while his hands are wailing up at the high end.

Living Soul (GHolmes bassline)Living Soul (GHolmes bassline)

I’ve heard that Richard started his career as a bass player, and this transcription can help any bass player learn how to use a few simple ideas to build a varied and effective line.  I especially like his sense of pacing; he spends the first half of his 15-chorus solo mostly sticking to the notes within the staff.  It isn’t until half way through that he begins to spend more time in a higher register, and he waits until the climax to bring in the really low growling notes.

You can see how the first note of almost every bar and chord change is arrived at from a half step above or below, which gives a bluesier feeling to the line.  It’s almost like Richard has a whole bag of approaches to each chord tone, and he mixes them up from chorus to chorus to get a line that’s full of variety without being abstract.  Although I’ve generically labeled the last two bars of each chorus with an F7 chord, Richard usually plays a turnaround that implies Am – D7 – Gm – C7, all approached from a half step above.


Some blues basslines by the great B3 organist Don Patterson.


Hip Cake Walk 1964


Wee Dot 1967


Darben the Red Foxx 1967

On his 1968 recording “Pisces Soul”, Don plays pretty much the same pattern as the one above but in the key of F.


Head 1967


Sir John 1968


Brothers 4 1969


Blue n Boogie 1974

Get Up & Get It!

This year for “blues March” let’s take a look at some of my favorite blueses as played by B3 organ players.  I love the sound of the classic organ trio, and even though the genre has no need for bass players, I’ve learned a few things about blues basslines by studying “at the feet” of some of the legends of the style.

This month I’ll write about the walking styles of a few of my favorite organ players, but first a tune from a record that does actually have Paul Chambers on bass.

Get Up & Get ItGet Up & Get It