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Down By The River

Dennis Coffey

May 30th, 2019

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“Making records at Hitsville was a very creative process in which the whole was greater than the sum of the individual parts,” says Coffey. “That’s the part that people don’t talk about. It was the teamwork that really made those records work, that’s what we did.”

Not to say that the individual musicians weren’t bringing their distinctive talents to the sessions – that unforgettable opening guitar line on “Just My Imagination” … Coffey made that up on the spot, playing music they had never seen nor rehearsed before the session, as was often the case. But as he puts it, he played, before anything else, what the music called for.

By contrast, Coffey’s solo work is much more singular. When he’s the featured artist, his style comes through regardless of the genre of music. Whether it’s a funk tune or a jazz standard, you can always tell it’s him.

As a traditional jazz record, what we hear on Down by the River may reflect less of the structure of Coffey’s most famous session work, and perhaps echo more of what he was playing in the listening clubs of Detroit during that same era.

As can be expected, the lineup of musicians that join Coffey on the record are some of Detroit’s best, including: Steve Adams,

Phil Whitfield, John Barron, Mark Byerly, John Rutherford, Keith Kaminski, Damon Warmack, Gayelynn McKinney and Demetrius Nabors.

Dennis Coffey

Dennis Coffey

“Making records at Hitsville was a very creative process in which the whole was greater than the sum of the individual parts,” says Coffey. “That’s the part that people don’t talk about. It was the teamwork that really made those records work, that’s what we did.”

Not to say that the individual musicians weren’t bringing their distinctive talents to the sessions – that unforgettable opening guitar line on “Just My Imagination” … Coffey made that up on the spot, playing music they had never seen nor rehearsed before the
session, as was often the case. But as he puts it, he played, before anything else, what the music called for.

By contrast, Coffey’s solo work is much more singular. When he’s the featured artist, his style comes through regardless of the genre of music. Whether it’s a funk tune or a jazz standard, you can always tell it’s him.

As a traditional jazz record, what we hear on Down by the River may reflect less of the structure of Coffey’s most famous session work, and perhaps echo more of what he was playing in the listening clubs of Detroit during that same era.

As can be expected, the lineup of musicians that join Coffey on the record are some of Detroit’s best, including: Steve Adams,
Phil Whitfield, John Barron, Mark Byerly, John Rutherford, Keith Kaminski, Damon Warmack, Gayelynn McKinney and Demetrius Nabors.

Track Listing:

  1. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
  2. Sunny
  3. The Shadow of Your Smile
  4. You Are the Sunshine of My Life
  5. Kansas City
  6. Little Sunflower
  7. Just My Imagination
  8. Baby, What You Want Me to Do?
  9. Impressions
  10. Cherokee

5 Comments

  1. Dennis, hope you’re doing great! Question about “Taurus.” Which version was the hit 45 version? The one on “Goin’ For Myself” or on “Big City Funk” albums???
    And a big hi to Millie!

  2. Jerry D Withers says:

    Been a long time fan, and am listening to the new album as I type this. Great stuff, but since it was a download, I don’t have the information: who was that singing “Kansas City” and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do?”?

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Dennis Coffey