After a series of sugary soul-jazz dates for Blue Note, Reuben Wilson resurfaced on Groove Merchant with The Sweet Life. The title notwithstanding, the session is his darkest and hardest-edged to date, complete with a physicality missing from previous efforts. Credit tenor saxophonist Ramon Morris, trumpeter Bill Hardman, guitarist Lloyd Davis, bassist Mickey Bass, and drummer Thomas Derrick, whose skin-tight grooves sand away the polished contours of Wilson's organ solos to reveal their diamond-sharp corners. The material, while predictable (i.e., standbys like "Inner City Blues" and "Never Can Say Goodbye"), is nevertheless well suited to the set's righteous funk sound.
This killer little Groove Holmes date was produced by the mighty Sonny Lester, and features a big band arranged and conducted by Manny Albam. Other than Holmes, the only other soloist credited here is Eddie Daniels on tenor and flute. The material here is curious upon first glance, with covers of Gerry Goffin's "Go Away Little Girl," Stevie Wonder's "You've Got It Bad," and Carole King's "It's Going to Take Some Time" situated around some hard soul-jazz numbers by the organist, including "Groove's Groove," along with Norman Gimbel's sweet ballad "How Insensitive" and slippery little soul tune "Meditation."
Monster funk from Hammond hero Reuben Wilson – an album of hard-burning, bad-walking tunes that are a fair bit different than most of his other work! Although Wilson recorded some pretty traditional organ jazz for the Blue Note and Groove Merchant labels, this album has him working with his "Cost Of Living" group – a combo who only recorded this one album, and which includes Richard Tee on keyboards, Bad Bascomb on bass, Bernard Purdie on drums, and both Houston Person and Pee Wee Ellis on tenor sax! Most cuts have some sort of vocals – sung by either Sammy Turner or Kenny Williams, both of whom really fit the badass spirit of the record, and bring in a nice range of deeper themes from the 70s.