Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Sweet Soulful B3 Grooves from Ed Cherry and Pat Bianchi

It’s unusual that a month goes by without a B3 album on this page at some point. For some people, funky organ grooves can be overkill; others (guess who) can’t get enough of them. Veteran guitarist Ed Cherry knows a little something about them, considering his association with the guy who might have been the greatest of all Hammond groovemeisters, Jimmy Smith. Cherry’s new album It’s All Good – recently out on Posi-Tone – might sound like a boast, but he backs it up, imaginatively and energetically reinventing a bunch of popular and familiar tunes and in the processs rediscovering their inner soul and blues roots. His accomplice on the B3 is Pat Bianchi, who has blinding speed and an aptitude for pyrotechnics; Cherry gives him a long leash, with predictably adrenalizing results. Drummer Byron Landham’s assignment is simply to keep things tight, which he does effortlessly. Needless to say, Wayne Shorter’s Edda and Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage probably aren’t the first tunes that come to mind as potential material for organ trio, but this crew pulls them off.

The former is done as a jazz waltz, Cherry alternating between hammer-on chordal variations, southern soul mingling with bent-note runs and some bracingly spinning chromatics. The latter is a more traditional B3 swing tune with lots of suave Wes Montgomery-isms. They go fishing for the inner blues in You Don’t Know What Love Is, give In a Sentimental Mood a rather unsentimental nonchalance, then pick up the pace with Kenny Burrell’s Chitlins Con Carne, Landham digging in harder, Cherry building a sunbaked tension as Bianchi spirals and swells.

The most expansive track here, Duke Pearson’s Christo Redentor picks it up even further, Bianchi adding a chromatically-fueled burn, Cherry finally cutting loose with a rapidfire series of flurries out of the second chorus. Another Shorter tune, Deluge, alternates betwen laid-back urbanity and freewheeling soul-blues, while Bill Evans’ Blue in Green gets reinvented as a samba, with one of Bianchi’s wickedest solos.

There are also a couple of Cherry originals here. Mogadishu is jaunty and conversational; the brisk shuffle Something for Charlie (a Charles Earland homage, maybe?) gives the guitarist a platform for his most energetic work here. There’s also a version of Epistrophy that quickly trades in carnivalesque menace for a greasy groove. There’s plenty of terse, thoughtfully animated tunefulness here for fans of both purist guitar jazz and the mighty B3.

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October 22, 2012 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brent Canter’s Urgency of Now Drives Its Point Home

Don’t let the endorsement fool you: Kenny Burrell is a fan of jazz guitarist Brent Canter, whose latest album Urgency of Now is out on Posi-Tone.  And the elder statesman is on to something. As with virtually every jazz guitarist, it’s no secret that Canter has listened to Burrell –  but he doesn’t ape him. Burrell is right in saying that this is a good album, frequently a great one, but most impressively, it’s an original one. No bass here; instead, a B3 organ, but there’s not a single funky shuffle in sight. Instead, a midtempo, frequently pensive groove.

You wouldn’t think that the generically circling Afrobeat-tinged riff that opens the first track would be the springboard for as catchy a tune as the one that morphs out of it…and the tasty Seamus Blake tenor sax solo that follows…and the big High Romantic chord-punching that Canter segues into, either. But it happens. They go brooding and Brazilian-tinged with the ballad Meet Me Halfway, with a blippy, slightly Burrellesque solo that follows a predictable but rewarding trajectory. A slightly phantasmagorical Pat Bianchi organ solo picks up the pace.

Settle Down, an expansive yet pensive early 60s style organ-and-guitar mood piece a la Grant Green is followed by A Long Way from Home. Weather Report might have sounded like this if they’d had a Hammond instead of Jaco: Canter takes it up with a long, acerbic, fat-toned solo and then passes to Blake for the basket, organist Adam Klipple warping from 4 AM to high noon in a split second. Transitions, another ballad, very subtly mines a lazy indie rock riff, Klipple moving in majestically and then carnivalesque, for psychedelic ambience. With Eyes Closed is as funky as they get here, Klipple going more for a straightforward, incisive feel, drummer Jordan Perlson prowling playfully in the underbrush.

If Marina Del Rey is meant to evoke a casual, breezy Cali milieu, it’s accurate, with spiraling organ and a surprisingly upbeat solo from Canter. They close the album with the title track, Canter taking on bit of a sun-blistered tone, organ flailing a little, and then down and out they go with an insistent, triumphant series of guitar riffs. This album is more than solid – it’s one of the better ones to come over the transom here this year.

August 9, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ralph Peterson’s Unity Project Comes Together Mightily

If the names Elvin, Max, Philly Joe, or Tony Williams mean anything to you, you’ll love this album. It’s yet another first-class new B3 jazz record that breaks the mold. Drummer Ralph Peterson’s Unity Project’s new Outer Reaches album was originally conceived as a joint tribute to Larry Young, Woody Shaw and their iconic 1965 Unity album , but morphed into something more original. It’s melodic jazz with strong hooks, Peterson – one of the most consistently interesting and forceful drummers around, and also a strong composer – joined by Josh Evans on trumpet, Jovan Alexandre on tenor and Pat Bianchi on organ. Much as Peterson is a powerful, propulsive presence, he’s also a colorist, alternating between a rumble and a whisper, sometimes simultaneously. He also contributes trumpet here – it’s a fun ride.

They open with Woody Shaw’s The Moontrane, shuffling briskly with absolutely blazing trumpet and more casual sax from Alexandre. Bianchi takes it even more tersely as Peterson lurks on the perimeter, and then the two join forces as they will throughout the album, bubbling up in tandem. Peterson alludes to distant thunder against the horns as it winds out. The second cut, Monk’s Dream is a deliciously radical reinvention, constantly shifting shape – at one point Bianchi takes over both rhythm and melody as Peterson prowls aggressively, Rudy Royston style. The false ending is a lot of fun. A nimble, purposeful organ tune, the title track – an original dedicated to Peterson’s dad – features more expansive perimeter work from the drums, Alexandre again bringing it down to earth after Evans’ joyous extrapolations.

Shaw’s Katrina Ballerina is as lyrical as one would hope, Evans’ understatedly wounded solo followed memorably by a warily expansive one by Alexandre. Peterson can’t resist playfully sideswiping every other beat on a lickety-split version of Shaw’s Beyond All Limits; arguably the most captivating of all the Shaw stuff here is Zoltan, with its artful, shifting horn segments, allusively martial drum intro and jovially spiraling guitar from guest Dave Fiuczynski. But the real standout tracks here are the originals. On My Side is an all-too-brief, slowly unwinding, classic late 50s style ballad with a warmly memorable Alexandre solo; Beyond My Wildest Dream portrays Peterson’s wife as somebody who’s bright, really has her act together but also has a lot of fun, lit up by Evans’ ebullient attack and some more killer interplay with Peterson shadowing Bianchi as he wheels around. And Inside Job is a juicily noirish, catchy theme that Bianchi tackles with casual hints of menace.

You know implied melody, right? Well, Peterson gets deep into implied rhythm on a stunningly terse, minimalistic take of Ritha, by Larry Young – when the organ drops out and leaves it to the drums, the effect is that the blithe shuffle is still going on even though Peterson is only playing about 20% of the time. It’s arguably the high point of the album. There’s also a blistering, funky cover of John McLaughlin’s Spectrum, Fiuczynski in “on” mode all the way through, blowing the Mahavishnu original to smithereens. The only miss here is an attempt to jazz up the Xmas carol We Three Kings – it’s better than Jethro Tull’s version of Good King Wenceslas, but it’s hard to do much with a grammarschool playground singalong: “We three kings of orient are/Tried to smoke a rubber cigar.” No, they don’t sing it. Maybe they should have. Peterson and crew play the cd release show for this one on June 4 at 9 PM at the Cornelia St. Cafe.

May 7, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment