Big John Patton / July 12, 1935 - March 19, 2002

Here's a birthday nod to the Hammond B-3 groovemaster John Patton, a key member of the '60s soul-jazz scene following Jimmy Smith. He said his approach was trying to emulate the style of trumpeters and trombonists on the organ. Out of Kansas City, he was pianist and bandleader with Lloyd Price in the mid to late '50s. After leaving Price in '59 he moved to NYC and started gigging with the Hammond, playing groovy hard bop with the likes of Ike Quebec, Lou Donaldson, Johnny Griffin and Grant Green.

He signed to Blue Note and released several records for the label as a leader, as well as a sideman with Donaldson, Harold Vick, George Braith and others. His 1969/70 band featured a young James "Blood" Ulmer! He moonlighted for other labels as well, appearing as "Malcolm Bass" with Art Blakey and others.

He laid low during the '70s but re-emerged in the '80s with Jimmy Ponder, avant-gardist John Zorn and also made some trips to Europe and Japan in response to the acid jazz scene's interest in his music, with several reissues and unreleased sessions seeing the light of day. In later years he teamed with Melvin Sparks and Grachan Moncur III, as well as Black Star, before his death from diabetes.

Tagged: Celebrate Icons, jazz, John Patton, soul!, soul/funk

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