Monday, April 9, 2012

2 by B-3s

There's something about Hammond B-3 organ trios that reminds me of spring and summer, lounging on the back porch with a cool drink.  Perhaps, it's the "burbling brook" sound some players get out of their speakers - whatever it is, the chemical reaction in my brain is quite positive.

For his 5th release on the Posi-Tone label, "Golden Child", Jared Gold returns to the Trio setting that served him well on his 2009 CD, "Supersonic."  Guitarist Ed Cherry is back from that date while  Quincy Davis (who appeared on Gold's previous Posi-Tone release) mans the drum chair.The program ranges from "pop" tunes, such as "Wichita Lineman" and "I Can See Clearly Now" to jazz standards like "In A Sentimental Mood" and "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" to 5 pieces from the leader. The disk opens with an ultra-funky version of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come", a piece that sets the tone for the entire album.  Davis is a responsive and explosive drummer, doesn't hold back reacting to the soloist.  Cherry, who has worked with a slew of great musicians (like Dizzy Gillespie, Henry Threadgill and Hamiett Bluiett), is an equal partner in the music, either doubling the song's theme or stretching out on a solo.  His lines blend jazz licks (a touch of Wes Montgomery octaves show up on the title track) with a strong blues feel.  This is no "lounge" band; every one digs in and gives his all.  One can enjoy the subtle shadings of Gold's "Pensa Em Mim", groove on the "second-line" feel of "14 Carat Gold" or bask in the sweet glow of "...Sleepy Time..."  Excellent solos from both Gold and Cherry as well as simple-sounding yet masterful percussion.  The trio's take on Jmmy Webb's "..Lineman" is quite funky while remaining true to the melody and mood of the original.  Cherry's rhythm guitar work is exemplary while Davis lets loose during the organ solo - then, the drummer gives the guitarist a real "fatback" feel beneath his short yet satisfying solo. "Times Up" moves (rather successfully) into Larry Young territory, with Davis's fiery drumming pushing, urging, coaxing his cohorts forward.

Each one of Jared Gold's Posi-Tone recordings has something to recommend it but "Golden Child" is, arguably the best.  Even in a trio setting, the program is his most varied. You'll like the way the Trio communicates, how their solos are substantial (and not just space fillers) and, for these ears, Gold's handsome "burbling" organ.  To find out more, go to

If you're a fan of Josh Jackson and WBGO-FM's "The Checkout", you may remember hearing organist Brian Charette play with his Sextette last May (check it out here) - perhaps, like me, you really enjoyed the mix of reeds, drums and B-3.  The 3 pieces they played live in the studio whetted my appetite for the upcoming Steeplechase CD but then I never saw it.

Brian was kind enough to send the mp3s that make up "Music for Organ Sextette" and, believe me, this is one fine group and CD.  Charette has assembled an impressive lineup, starting with the excellent drummer Jochen Rueckert, alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo, flutist Jay Collins, bass clarinetist John Ellis and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm.  With all this "firepower", the program Charette creates for his ensemble will surprise you. There are moments the arrangements really swing, like on the opener "Svichkova", with Charette's bass pedal work locked in with Rueckert's drumming. "Fugue FKA/ EGF Variations" opens as if written by JS Bach while the second half has a serious groove;  yet, the reeds come in one at time. First the tenor, then alto, followed by flute and finally bass clarinet all playing a round, especially when the organ joins the fray.  The melodic arrangement for the reeds on "French Birds" may remind one of the sound of the World Saxophone Quartet.  Every one solos but no one goes on too long and the results are rewarding.

"Elvira" is playful, a delightful melody over a reggae beat, with each soloist getting a different emphasis in the rhythm section beneath them.  "Tambourine" blends New Orleans melody and harmonies (love the blend of flute and alto sax on the melody section) over seriously funky drumming - Reuckert is both a dynamo and painter throughout the CD, whether it's the James Brown opening of "Late Night T.V." or his exquisite cymbal work on "Equal Opportunity" or his ability to quickly shift gears as he demonstrates on the mysterious "Mode for Sean Wayland" (dedicated to the contemporary Australian-born keyboard artist.) Charette has a keen sense of humor; can't help but praise the gospel setting for "Prayer For An Agnostic" (with an Ellingtonian feel in the melody line by the reed ensemble) and the "testifying" solos, each one more soulful than the one before.

It's hard to single out one soloist, everyone plays so well.  Relaxed yet intense, with rhythms that caress you one moment, push you up out of your seat the next.  Pay attention to the arrangements, to the textures of the reeds as they move with and around each other, notice the different sounds from the organ as well as the first-class work of the drummer.  Then, just sit back and let it enter your soul - because this music, more often than not, is quite satisfying.  Brian Charette and his Sextette makes honest and joyous music.  You should seek out this fine recording. For more information, go to

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