James Harrell McGriff (April 3, 1936-May 24-2008) actually grew up and studied in Philadelphia, but Trenton is where he made a name for himself and earned the attention that led to his first record deal. Along fellow Philadelphians Jimmy Smith and Richard “Groove” Holmes, he is considered one of the kings of the jazz organ, but he always described himself as a blues player.  He grew up in a family of musicians and studied at the Combe College of Music and Juilliard.

Accounts differ as to whether it was 1961 or 1962 that McGriff was playing an unidentified small club in Trenton when a talent scout for Sue Records heard him play an arrangement of Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” (later sampled by Kanye West f. Jamie Foxx). The recording of McGriff’s version of the song became his first hit record. More than a dozen albums followed in a career that continued for the next 35 years.

LA Times obituary

Discogs Discography

Artist website