Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Yet Another Distinctive, Entertaining, Eclectic Organ Jazz Album from Brian Charette

Brian Charette – an insightful contributor to the New York City Jazz Record – is the rare music writer who also writes a good tune. And he literally wrote the book on the B3 organ. He goes under the hood: drawbar settings, mechanical tips, it’s all there. And he’s generous with his ideas: if you want to sound like Charette, he’s got all his harmonic tricks in there. He records prolifically for the reliably swinging Posi-tone label, and he’s playing the album release show for his latest one, Good Tipper – streaming at Spotify – with his reed-fueled “sextette”  tonight, April 29 at Smoke Jazz Club at the southern tip of what used to be Harlem and is now more or less the Upper West tonight with three sets at 7, 9 and 10:30 PM. As an alternative to the pricy prix-fixe menu, you can hang at the bar in the back where the sound is just as good.

Charette’s playing is distinguished by fearlessness and an imperturbable wit. He has no issues with code-switching between dub, funk, Jimmy Smith and maybe even a little Messiaen if he’s in the mood. Charette’s back catalog is mostly originals; this new release is a grab bag of new material and an eclectic bunch of covers, most of them as unpredictable as you would expect from this guy. The album’s title track is a briskly swinging, amiable number centered around a genial Avi Rothbard guitar hook, Charette working a steady, full-on, allusively fluid solo midway through. The funky cover of the Zombies’ Time of the Season is an improvement on Rod Argent’s teenage original but other than offering tongue-in-cheek hubris, doesn’t really add anything. Richard Rodgers’ Spring Is Here gets a balmy, tremolo-toned bossa tinged reinterpretation, Rothbard matching Charette’s optimism as he chooses his spots.

Al Martino’s Cuando Cuando Cuando is reinvented as a roller-rink latin soul shuffle, guitarist Yotam Silberstein adding lively, wry spiraling followed by a similarly deadpan, chugging Charette solo. Another Quarter, by Rothbard is a funky soul strut with an astigmatic, somewhat acidic Charette solo that really wakes you up while the band keeps it on the purist 60s tip.

Standing Still, a Charette original, is catchily polyrhythmic as it hints at a waltz and dips in and out of doubletime. John Barry’s theme to the film You Only Live Twice gets a very straight-up take, Charette letting Silberstein carry the hooks and saving a muted menace for his own lines, drummer Mark Ferber driving it hard.

Charette tackles a couple of Jimmy Webb tunes, Wichita Lineman and Up Up and Away, the former backing away from the baroque arrangement of the Glenn Campbell hit, adding a swinging funk groove and in the process maxing out the song’s bittersweet angst, Rothbard and drummer Jordan Young building to an insistent peak. The latter is a revelation, Charette bringing an unexpected, chordally-fueled gravitas to lite 60s stoner soul, Silberstein’s guitar supplying the helium.

One and Nine, also by Rothbard, is the album’s most expansive number, a loping groove which Charette colors judiciouslly, tenor saxophonist Joe Sucato doing the same and anchoring the tune with a tinge of smokiness. Charette sets up a classic biting/pillowy dichotomy, organ versus guitar throughout his ballad To Live in Your Life (with some irresisibly clever hints of a famous 60s janglerock hit). They take the album out on the upbeat tip with a swinging, syncopated version of Joe Henderson’s The Kicker. It’s a good introduction to the many things Charette has fun with, and a continuation of a career that confounds some of the more uptight members in the jazz community but keeps everybody else entertained…and sometimes in stitches.

April 29, 2015 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, organ music, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Jordan Young Group Put an Original Spin on Organ Jazz

The Hammond B3 revival continues with jazz drummer Jordan Young leading his group through a welcome, unorthodox new album. How unorthodox? Joe Sucato’s tenor sax takes the lead most of the time, fortified by Yotam Silberstein’s guitar while organ innovator Brian Charette holds down rhythm for the most part. Young is a no-nonsense, purist player who, other than a briefly clever excursion during one of the free interludes between the songs here, doesn’t even solo between track one and track eight – and when he does, leaves you wanting more. This is a thoughtful, sometimes mysterious album: a close listen reveals a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and similarly smart, understated playing. These guys aren’t going to blow you away with solos and volume here: this album has plenty of other ways to hold your attention.

They open with Pat Metheny’s H and H – dedicated to the recently closed bagel shop in Metheny’s upper west side neighborhood, maybe? Then they reinvent Every Time We Say Goodbye as a syncopated shuffle, but with the sax’s warmly fluid bluesiness as a lead, Charette building a soul song within his solo (a vibe that will recur here). The most straight-up organ shuffle here, Duke Pearson’s Jean de Fleur, has Sucato nonchalantly sinking his teeth into the deft, understated groove, Charette going for a horn line instead of Jimmy Smith-style funk, Silberstein swooping in to take the energy up a notch. The lone Young original here, Claudes Monet is a warmly optimistic jazz waltz.

Joe Henderson’s Afro-Centric gets reinvented as hazy summer evening groove rather than blazing funk; likewise, Wayne Shorter’s Angola is done as a briskly low-key closing-time theme, Young taking an especially enjoyable, devious turn deciding whether or not to let the band back in. The real gem out of all of these is Sucato’s JF Blues, a wry, catchy, stop-time swing tune – that Charette would quote Booker T. Jones before a neat trick ending pretty much says it all. And Young pretty much disapperas on My One and Only Love, leaving the ballad to the guitar and sax over Charette’s lush yet tersely atmospheric washes and David Lynch outside-the-funeral-parlor solo. The independently released album is available at the usual spots including cdbaby.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment