3rd Avenue Blues Band

The Third Avenue Blues Band (spelled numerically after their first single) was an American brass-rock/soul sextet that released three singles on MCA-subsidiary Revue in 1968/69, collected with other material on the 1970 album Fantastic.

Members: Bob Beasley (saxophone), Hadley Hockensmith (guitar, bass), Harold Jones (vocals), Bill Maxwell (drums), Harlan Rogers (vocals, organ, piano), Mark Underwood (trumpet)

Background and Singles

The band formed in Oklahoma City when trumpeter Mark Underwood and saxophonist Bob Beasley teamed with guitarist/bassist Hadley Hockensmith, organist Harlan Rogers, and drummer Bill Maxwell. Underwood played in The Serfs, a jazz-rock/psych band that released one album, The Early Bird Cafe, in 1969.

Singer Harold Jones completed the Third Avenue Blues Band, which signed to MCA-subsidiary Revue. In 1968, they released their first single, “It’s Got to Be Love” (b/w “If You Don’t Love Me”), both written by Rogers. It was followed in 1969 by the Jones-composed “Don’t Make Me Laugh” (b/w Hockensmith’s “Pipedream”), released as 3rd Avenue Blues Band. Their third single, a funky cover of Joe South’s “Rose Garden” (b/w Rogers’ “Come On and Get It”), appeared later that year.

1970: Fantastic

Their album, Fantastic, appeared on Revue in 1970. It features 11 songs, including all the aforementioned single sides (except “Pipedream”). Other tracks include Rogers’ “I Know About Love,” Hockensmith’s “Hawk’s Blues,” and covers of the Isley Brothers (“It’s Your Thing”) and Eddie Harris (“Mean Greens”). The album was produced by Charlie Carey.

Musically, Fantastic fuses Stax/Volt arrangements with flourishes of brass rock (Ambergris, Blood Sweat & Tears, Sons of Champlin).

  • “I Know About Love” (4:13): Subdued organ/guitar pattern (in Dmaj7) over tapped rhythm. Soaring, soulful vocals; rising sax line amid G/G minor bridge. Full band swells amid floodgate Hammond on the chorus.
  • “If You Don’t Want Me” (3:07): Soul ballad/vocal lament. Soft guitar (in Fmaj7). Swelling chorus brass. Minor key passages.
  • “It’s Got To Be Love” (2:25): Jolly brass gallop (in Fmaj7). Vocal tradeoff between gruff baritone and smooth tenor. Jubilant falsetto harmonized chorus. (Motown pastiche).
  • “Come On and Get It” (3:17): Clipped horn and percolating bass over drum-pummeled, monochordal groove (in E). Searing, high-end, held-note guitar solo. (James Brown influence).
  • “Mean Greens” (5:08): R&B instrumental with smoking, oozing saxophone over Latin rhythmic foundation.

Later Activity

Maxwell became a fixture of Texas faith-based label Light Music and joined its flagship act Andraé Crouch & The Disciples. In 1973, he reunited with Hockensmith and Rogers in the jazz-funk/psych combo Sonlight, which also served as the instrumental nucleus on three albums by Light Rec. gospel singer Danniebelle Hall. During the 1980s, the team recorded four albums as part of the jazz-rock ensemble Koinonia.

Underwood later appeared on albums by the Cate Bros., Van Morrison, Bette Midler, Jules & the Polar Bears, and Michael Vlatkovich.

Beasley re-linked with Rogers and Hockensmith on soul-faith albums by the Don DeGrate Delegation and Sherman Andrus.


  • Fantastic (1970)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *