Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saffron Ensemble's "Will You" Exploring the Poem's of Rumi

Saffron Ensemble: Will You ?

The Iranian singer Katayoun Goudarzi has been absorbed in Persian poetry for the last thirty years. She has made her native poetry an integral part of her life, studying diligently to be true to the linguistic as well as lyrical integrity of the writings that she either recites or sings.

Of the nine albums she has recorded since 2006, five have concentrated on one poet, the 13th century Sufi Poet Rumi. The sentiment expressed so emotionally in this poet’s work seem to transcend time, language and culture. Universal themes of love, longing and loss are all dealt with in an emotionally ringing manner.

Saffron Ensemble: Tim Ries, Shujaat Khan, Katayoun Goudarzi and Kevin Hays

On her latest recording, Will You? she is once again joined by the sitar master Shujaat Khan, the muti-reed artist Tim Ries, the jazz pianist Kevin Hays and the table player Dibyanka Chatterjeu. Together they call themselves Saffron Ensemble.

The album features Gourdarzi’s expressive voice in recitation of the spoken word and singing the verse to the music.

As for the music, pianist Kevin Hays provides one composition, “Sweet Caroline,” to the program, while the rest of the songs are provided by the sitarist Shujaat Khan.

Saffron Ensemble

Khan’s process of composition: “I come up with the skeleton of the tunes, but that’s really what we build from. We converse to make this music. It’s never the same interpretation, the same sound, the same song twice.” The recording was done in one sitting without retakes to make it as spontaneous as possible and it has that feeling that comes from inspiration; bubbling creativity that can be so fleeting.

The music has a world-music feel to it and incorporates elements of both middle-eastern and Indian motifs with some jazz-like improvisations.

The drone-like twang of Khan’s sitar is a constant presence throughout. A stabilizer that offers a landscape on which the other artists add their colors.

It is Gourdarzi’s haunting voice that gives the performance it’s soul. Her voice soars, quivers, uses guttural sounds, voice modulation and employs a crystalline tone. The result is a heart-wrenching, mysterious and exotic rendering of Rumi’s poems in Persian. The only thing that is missing for me is the English translation of the verse.

The two western musicians seem to find their place in this decidedly eastern musical offering. Multi-reedist Tim Ries’s lead in soprano solo at the beginning of “Don’t” is especially noteworthy. Pianist Kevin Hays provides fluttering notes with a keenly attuned ear.

Dibyanka Chatterjeu’s ever present tablas play off Khan’s sitar with an assured constancy.

Hays’ beautiful “Sweet Caroline” is played as a trio piece. It is the only song whose melodic content is easily identifiable; played without verse or vocals. Khan adds delicate sitar accompaniment here and Chatterjeu keeps the time as Hays offers his own inspired pianistic reading of his thoughful composition.

The inspired and melodic chanting voice of Khan can be heard opening the contemplative “A Thread” and later, on “The Void.”

Gourdarzi’s soft-spoken voice draws you in like any good storyteller. Even without knowing the meaning of the words you are moved by the expressiveness of her voice and delivery. Ries has a stirring tenor solo on “A Thread” that adds to the trancelike feeling of this song.

More of a world music album than a jazz album, Will You? includes ten inspired songs that, if you allow yourself the pleasure, can be thoroughly engrossing.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Pharoah Sanders Quartet taps into the Spiritual at the Rialto in Atlanta

William Henderson(p);  Pharoah Sanders (ts); Nat Reeves (b) and Jason Brown (drms) at the Rialto Center 

Last night at the Georgia State University Rialto Center for the Arts here in Atlanta, a nearly sold out crowd came to hear a jazz legend. The spiritual saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and his quartet entered the Rialto stage to a standing ovation from a respectful crowd.  The blue dashiki-clad Sanders, now seventy-seven, wore a simple turned-around cap and his signature chin strap beard now snowy white. His movement was a bit less spritely then in years past as he hobbled onto the stage.

Sanders is one of the fathers of the avant-garde and free jazz movements of the nineteen sixties. His name is in the pantheon of free and avant-garde players like trumpeter Don Cherry, saxophonists Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, John Tchicai and Archie Shepp and the pianist Cecil Taylor. But it was his association with futurist Sun Ra that brought him his moniker and the idea that he could freely express himself on his horn.  

Pharoah Sanders at sound check photo credit  James B. Ellison Jr.

Originally born Ferrell Sanders in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1940, it was Ra – himself born Herman Blount - who gave Sanders the new name Pharoah in the early sixties, when the young man was struggling to survive in New York City. His later association with the saxophonist John Coltrane would mark another turning point in Sanders’ career. The two can be heard on Coltrane’s Ascension, a pivotal album for the saxophone giant as well as eight other albums spanning the years 1965-1967. The relationship was symbiotic; Sanders long, emotional, overblown, often dissonant solos influencing Coltrane’s later playing and Coltrane’s spiritual quest influencing Sanders future musical direction.

In 1966 Sanders signed with the Impulse label and released his startling debut Tauhid. For me, Tauhid was a defining moment. More than any other music I had ever listened to, this album and Sanders’ playing could transport me into a state of transcendental bliss. It was a nuclear experience. I loved music but never thought it could transcend time and space. I thought it was my little secret but I soon found out that the music had the same effect on many others.

Sanders followed Tauhid with a series of spiritually uplifting albums and collaborations. His work on Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidanada and his own albums Karma and Thembi all followed eastern dominated musical and spiritual themes. His discography lists over thirty albums as a leader and countless performances as a collaborator.

I was anxious to attend his performance at the Rialto, and see if this seventy-seven- year-old icon could still bring that energy and emotional involvement to the music as I remembered it. 

Sanders’ band included his pianist William Henderson who first recorded with Sanders in 1983 and Hart School of Music educator/bassist Nat Reeves who often works with alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. The program originally called for the drummer Joe Farnsworth to be on the bandstand, but the drummer Jason Brown was brought in due to last-minute scheduling changes.

The set started off with bassist Reeves offering a bowed introduction to Coltrane’s “After the Rain,” from Coltrane’s Impressions album of 1966. Sanders’ evoking the meditative reflection with great tone and warmth. Drummer Brown using his soft mallets to make his cymbals shimmer.

The program went into a quicker paced Coltrane tune which I couldn’t identify but sounded like it was from the Giant Steps period. Here the band did the heavy lifting as they would do for most of the evening, as Sanders shuffled off stage after a brief but powerful solo. It was hard to tell if the septuagenarian was having difficulty standing as he moved very slowly on and off stage, his gait showing signs of a pronounced limp. His playing was brief, often only a few measures per song. Gone were the powerful overblows and the extended ventures into deep space, explorations that could last twenty minutes. Despite the brevity, when he took up his horn Sanders showed he still possessed that same command of tone and raw emotional vitality that earmarked his earlier work, even if it came with a more subdued physical power. Quality not quantity ruled the proceedings on this night.

His take on Coltrane’s “Naima” was a highlight, playing the emotional ballad with sublime sensitivity, occasionally adding some fluttering notes but with no dissonance. The saxophonist has shown a rare ability to channel something that goes beyond simple music and for a few moments he did so on "After the Rain" and “Naima.”

Pharoah Sanders photo by James B. Ellison Jr.

As the program progressed Sanders took a few opportunities to edge on drummer Jason Brown who seemed to be trying his best to hold his own in these unfamiliar waters.

On his own compositions, especially “The Creator has a Master Plan” and the encore “Ose Re Re” you could see the saxophonist became animated. He moved across the stage in a dance-like strut that belied his age. Sanders is one of those artist that feeds off his audience and he encouraged the crowd to chant along with him and make his “Creator has a Master Plan” into a communal experience. I found myself among those who willingly obliged.

Pianist Henderson chaired the group with a subdued refinement, playing some stirring passages that at times sounded very Tyner-esque. His ability to maintain lush fills or that drone effect that so often accompanied some of Sanders’ more spiritual music was impressive.  Reeves adapted his bass to the songs at hand using both pizzicato and arco techniques, keeping the sometimes-frantic beat pulsing or simply maintaining a sustained buzz. Brown did his best to maintain the swing, occasionally letting loose with a barrage of bombastic that seemed to appeal to the crowd.

At an after show gathering, I was able to get the taciturn Sanders to sign a copy of Tauhid that I had brought with me; my own personal highlight. Surrounded by his family this gentle, unassuming man proved a gracious artist who took the time to sign artifacts and take pictures with his adoring fans.

We are rarely given a chance to bear witness to a musician of the caliber and importance of Pharoah Sanders. He is one of those jazz masters that should be revered for his lasting contributions to the music and for his dedication to enriching our lives with his very spiritual offerings. The Georgia State University Rialto Center for the Arts its director Leslie Gordon and its jazz advisor Dr. Gordon Vernick should be applauded bringing Mr. Sanders to Atlanta. For anyone who has not yet seen him play live, what on earth are you waiting for?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Alan Broadbent's "Developing Story" : A Tour de Force of Jazz meets Strings

Alan Broadbent's Developing Story 
The New Zealand born pianist Alan Broadbent has a long and storied career as a jazz man having played with the likes of Woody Herman, Chet Baker and Charlie Haden. But it is his orchestral accompaniment work with singers Natalie Cole and then with Shirley Horn and Haden that garnered him two Grammy awards. 

He is currently singer Dianna Krall’s musical director and has arranged and conducted strings for the Eagles Glenn Frey After Hours album and for Paul McCartney’s Kisses from the Bottom with the London Symphony Orchestra. The man is no stranger to using the magic a fully engaged orchestra can bring to a recording.

Broadbent, now seventy, has been intrigued by a song he has had in his head since the early 1970s and the theme to that song emerges in three movements on his latest album Developing Story, released at the end of June of this year. 

Alan Broadbent’s love of some jazz standards is also on display as he deftly arranges Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now”, Bill Evans’ “Blue in Green”, Miles Davis’ “Milestones” and John Coltrane’s “Naima” as well as his own “Lady in the Lake” and “Children of Lima” on this gorgeous album. 

Wanting the music to be true to its roots, he approached the music from a jazz trio point of view hoping that he could arrange a symphony orchestra around that core musical feeling. Jazz and Classical have been strange bedfellows over the years with some attempts to combine the two falling far short of their intended goal. Broadbent may be the perfect scribe to join the two in harmonious marriage.The trio is a superb one that includes Broadbent on piano, Harvie S on bass and Peter Erskine on drums and the orchestra he envelopes the music with is the London Metropolitan Orchestra under his masterful direction.

All three movements of Broadbent’s “The Developing Song” are cinematic masterpieces with gorgeous piano lines by Broadbent and swelling string orchestrations that carry you away in this haunting melody. MVT II is a slow waltz based on the same theme with the trio more in prominence and the orchestra brass and woodwinds providing some magical moments of suspense and grandeur. MVT III initially launches the song into more of a swing-like feel, Erksine’s feathery brushes leading the way, before a shimmering drum solo leads to some towering brass that soar majestically like Roman horns announcing the entrance of a conquering hero. The music just sweeps you away.

Broadbent’s take on the jazz standards is equally as royal in its scope; his piano leads the way embellishing the melodies with lush orchestrations that are like miniature masterpieces of their own construction. To describe the nuances of his arrangements would do them a disservice, they are meant to be lavishly enjoyed; played on headphones with a glass of fine red wine or a dram of aged bourbon by your side. This is the good life in all its musical splendor.

His arrangement of “Naima” is particularly luscious, a filigreed take on Coltrane’s ode to his first wife. Woodwinds dance to Broadbent’s call like wood sprites in a magical forest. He summons a gush of wind created by his marvelously arranged strings and boisterous brass. Like a master weaver he spins another world within the song structure.   

“Blue in Green” is another treat to hear as Broadbent envisions it in all its stringed and French-horned glory. The pianist in him loves the sparse beauty of this Evan’s melody, while the arranger in him hears layers upon layers of possibilities in this melancholic song.

Broadbent’s unique arrangement of “Milestones” is like Gil Evans on steroids. The remaining songs are all gorgeous arranged and magnificently played. It may have taken the maestro nearly fifty years to get to realize his Developing Story but we are all the richer for him having finally completed this tour de force.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

'Bone Power: Michael Davis' "Hip-Bone Big Band"

Michael Davis: Hip-Bone Big Band

Every so often, a cd falls through the cracks; I either don’t get to it in a timely manner or I miss it completely. I make it a goal to generally try to listen to everything that is sent to me, but sometimes even though the spirit is willing my execution falls short of my intentions.

So it was with this one. I just discovered trombonist Michael Davis’s release Hip-Bone Big Band buried beneath my pile, and although it was recorded and released back in August of 2016, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give a passing acknowledgement to this fine album after finally getting to take a listen.

At fifty-six years of age, Davis is a clinician, an educator and a sought-after trombonist, having had stints in the big bands of Buddy Rich, Bob Mintzer, and Woody Herman and having toured with the Rolling Stones to name just a few. On Hip-Bone Big Band, this accomplished musician proves he is also a top-notch arranger/composer, presenting nine original and three re-imagined songs that just burst with one of the most energized, vibrant big band sounds being recorded today. Davis proves there certainly is power in them there 'bones.

Davis knows the strengths of the musicians in his ensemble- on this recording all top-tier New York session musicians. The group jabs, swells, growls and explodes in dexterous unison and deft counterpoint, resulting in a powerful wall of sound that just blows you away. Waves of multi-layered frequencies are meticulously arranged, carefully orchestrated to sound like one powerful unified voice, and with a rock-solid rhythm section of Andy Ezrin on piano, David FInck on bass, Will Kennedy and Jared Schonig on drums, the music never fails to swing.

His orchestrations allow several soloists an opportunity to launch into their own individualized improvisations and the results can be stirring, but it is the ensemble work that is most impressive to me. Big bands can be like an untamed beast, powerful and unwieldy, but Davis seems to have the acumen of a lion tamer. His arrangements harness the energy without ever dissipating the raw power.

With a name like Hip-Bone Big Band, you’d expect some of the best solos spots would be offered to the who’s who of trombonists playing for Davis and indeed they are. The featured artists include Conrad Herwig, Bill Reichenbach, Bob McChesney, Andy Martin, Marshall Gilkes, Nick Finzer, Jeff Nelson, Michael Dease and Davis himself.

Davis does leave a little space for the saxophones and trumpets to have their say. We get some engaging solos from Scott Wendholt on trumpet, tenor men Bob Malach and the alto master Dick Oatts. Andy Snitzer’s tenor feature on “Walk Like the Guy” is especially evocative.

The selections are mostly swingers that allow the band to inhale and exhale in synchronous and syncopated respiration. This band has the lungs of a trained Olympic athlete and it is exhilarating to hear.  You can tell these guys were enjoying themselves because they seem to convey a cocky attitude in their section work, a confident bluster that blares through your headset. Songs like “Butter Ball,” “Zaq Attack,” “Walk Like the Guy” “Giant” and the pulsing “San Jose” demonstrate just how in sync these guys can be under Davis’ direction.

Not that the band can’t summon its emotional side; just take a listen to the moodily played “Sentimental” or the sauntering “Fog City” where Davis offers a particularly emotionally charged solo.

“Trombone Institute of Technology” is a bare study in multi-voicing of instruments without the aid of a rhythm section and “CRB’s 76 Trombones” is a buoyant play on the old Music Man classic.

With this bone-centric band, Hip-Bone Big Band Davis has created a thunderous sound that anyone who enjoys the genre should find immensely appealing.

The musicians; Saxophonists: Dick Oats,ato;David Mann, alto; Bob Malach, tenor;Andy Snitzer,tenor; Charles Pillow, tenro; Roger Rosenberg, baritone;
Trumpet/Flugelhorns: Nick Marchione, Jim Hyner, Tony KAdleck, Scott Wendholt, Zaq DAvis. Trombones/  Bass trombones: Micahel Davis, Marshall Gilkes, Nick Finzer, Keith O'Quinn, Conrad Herwig, Bob McChesney, Andy Martin, Birch Johnson; Michael Dease, Amy Salo, Jeff Nelson; George Flynn, Bill Reichenbach.
Rythm Section: Andy Ezrin, piano: David FInck, bass; Will Kennedy, drums; Jared Schonig, drums.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Joyous Feel of Guitarist Dave Stryker on "Strykin' Ahead"

Dave Stryker Strykin' Ahead
Sometimes when you just do what you do so well you can be taken for granted. Guitarist Dave Stryker has been around now plying his trade like a journeyman for nearly forty-years. During his maturation, the Omaha born guitarist did a two-year apprenticeship with the organist Brother Jack McDuff, and then worked a ten-year stint with the saxophone giant Stanley Turrentine. With twenty-eight recordings as a leader under his belt, you’d think he would be better known. His last three recordings Eight Track, Messin’ with Mr. T and Eight Track II,  and his work with the under-the-radar saxophonist Steve Slagle, have all received critical acclaim. People are starting to notice just how good Stryker is. The guitar icon Pat Metheny said about Stryker “…he just gets better and better with one of the most joyous feels around.” 

This summer, I had the opportunity to see Stryker as he played with the bassist Nilson Matta in Bar Harbor, ME on a program titled Samba Meets Jazz.  He struck me as a subtle, accomplished player, not prone to showing off technical prowess, who was well versed in all styles and whose fluid playing did indeed exude a sense of joyous exuberance

Dave Stryker photo Ralph A. Miriello 2017

On his latest Strykin’Ahead the guitarist redeploys the musicians that he used so successfully on his Eight Track II album. The group includes Jared Gold on organ, McClenty Hunter on drums and Steve Nelson on vibraphone. Boy can these guys make magic together.

From the cascading opener Stryker’s “Shadowboxing” to the beautifully realized version of Wayne Shorter’s classic “Footprints,” the arrangements and execution are nuanced and superb. Stryker knows the strengths of his fellow bandmates and he employs them with a deft precision. Nelson’s use of space and Gold’s light touch on the B3 are both exemplary.  Stryker’s playing, almost non-chalant, is never flashy, always so confident and subdued that it can seem deceptively simple. But rest assured it is full of imagination. Hunter is that rare trapmaster who has  dynamic propulsion, big ears and exquisite taste.

Billy Strayhorn’s “Passion Flower” is given a brushed Bossa beat by Hunter, with Gold’s bass lines pulsing the music forward. Nelson and Stryker are musical soul-mates; both artisans in their ability to say so much with less.

Stryker shines on another of his originals “Strykin’ Ahead,” the fleet intro- Nelson, Gold and Stryker all playing the rapid opening line with cool precision.  With the gurgling pace provided by the driving Hunter, Stryker’s notes just fall from the guitarist’s fretboard like raindrops from a cloud. There is a stream of consciousness feel to the way he attacks his notes, a consistency that produces a smooth organic flow. When this group gets into a groove their cohesiveness  is a pure delight.

With guitarists, there is always room for a blues and on “Blues Down Deep” we get a little window into where it all began for Stryker. No flash here, just an economy of notes played with a sustained sense of emotional depth, following in the footsteps of some of his idols. Gold has a marvelous control of his B3,  producing sounds that are juicy with pathos and Nelson’s vibes resonate with bluesy authenticity.

The remainder of the set includes Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” the Broadway hit “Who Can I Turn To” -where Stryker uses some Montgomery-like octave work-, and Parker’s tangled “Donna Lee,” which Stryker conforms to his slipstream style of playing.

 Strykin’ Ahead is an immensely satisfying album that should firmly establish Dave Stryker into the elite ranks of jazz guitarists working today.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Atlanta Drummer Dave Potter's "You Already Know"

Dave Potter You Already Know  Summit #705
The Atlanta based drummer, Dave Potter, has recently released an album, You Already Know, on Summit Records, and this auspicious debut is making its way up the jazz charts. On this album he proves he has absorbed the tradition and developed a powerful sense of swing that he carries to any band that he plays with.  

Potter, a graduate from Florida State University’s Jazz Studies program, studied with the pianist Marcus Roberts. After graduating in 2005 he was chosen to work in The Louis Armstrong Quintet at The University of New Orleans, but his stay in Louisiana was cut short when hurricane Katrina hit the Crescent City. In 2006 he was awarded a scholarship to prestigious Julliard School of Music to continue his studies, but instead chose to return to his alma mater to get his master’s degree, which he completed in 2008.

Along the way Potter has enjoyed working closely with Roberts, a mentor, both at school and in the pianist’s working trio. The drummer caught the discerning eye of Robert's drummer/percussionist Jason Marsalis and Potter began working and touring with him in 2009. Since Marsalis began playing the vibraphone more regularly, Potter has taken over the drum chair and can be heard on two of Marsalis’ recordings Music Update and 21st Century Trad Band.

On You Already Know, Potter has chosen to use three distinct rhythm sections, each made up a stellar cast of musicians, that in concert realize his musical vision. The ease with which he adapts to these three different bands is a testimony to his versatility as accomplished drummer. He molds himself to the need of whatever group he is in.

The program opens with Wayne Shorter’s “Night Dreamer,” manned by Jason Marsalis on vibraphone, Will Goble on bass and pianist Austin Johnson; essentially the Jason Marsalis Vibe Quartet working band. Potter and Goble lock into a bubbling rhythmic groove as Marsalis’ and then Johnson are featured over the changes. Potter can be heard erupting when needed or gently pulsing forward as the music requires.

On Marcus Roberts’ hard-charging “Country by Choice” Potter’s explosive drums are joined by Roberts on piano, bassist Rodney Jordan and the front line of Miguel Alvarado on tenor and Darren English on trumpet. The incendiary Nashville based Alvarado launches into an impressive barrage of fiery lines in his open salvo and Roberts dazzling keyboard work is equally exciting. Bassist Jordan’s solo, pulses on adrenaline and Potter’s drums percolate like bubbling lava in a caldera. This one cooks.

Potter wisely takes the temperature down a notch with the 1927 pop classic “My Blue Heaven.” Marsalis, Johnson and Gobles airing out the music on this bouncy stroll through memory lane. Potters easy shuffle in lock step with Gobles walking bass.

Potter injects some of his own compositional acumen into the mix with “Ratio Man.” This line-up includes pianist Louis Heriveaux, the bassist Craig Shaw and a returning Alvarado on soprano saxophone. Heriveaux is the one to listen to here as he spins serpentine lines through the maze of rhythmic changes provided by Shaw and Potter.

The same band returns to the more traditional straight-ahead jazz tackling Benny Golson’s classic “Whisper Not,” with the front line of Alvarado on tenor and Andy Sioberg on trumpet. Heriveaux’s sparse comping is a delight and his solos revelatory without any flash. Soiberg’s trumpet a bit tentative to my ears and Alvarado lays back for the most part.

The same group tackles Bobby Watson’s “Beatitudes” later on in the album. Heriveaux, again shines on a shimmering solo and Potter allows himself a brief roiling drum solo over the repeating drone of the two horns.

On Monk’s “Played Twice” Potter returns with Marsalis, Goble and Johnson to attack this quirky tune. The in-sync intuition of this group is apparent as they navigate Monk’s musical chicanery with practiced ease. Johnson’s piano is light and fluid, no doubt strongly influenced by Marsalis’ equally effervescent vibraphone style. Through it all Potter finds a way to add his own accents-stabs, splashes and rolls- at complimentary points.

Bassist Rodney Jordan’s plucky bass opens Potter’s “I’m Going to Heaven and You A’int” a lowdown dirty blues that features Jordan and pianist Roberts showing some soulful playing. Potter’s work here is restrained, a ghostly timekeeper, allowing these two masters to wring the emotional guts out of this song.

Potter returns with another original “Puppet Master” with Roberts, Jordan, Alvarado and English back. English, a promising talent on the trumpet, draws first blood. His solo a combination of bright jabs and slinky slurs. Listen to how well this group interacts; Alvarado’s deep-throated tenor solo sets out a line of notes that Robert’s quickly picks up; the tenor and piano finding common grounds for discussion. When Alvarado erupts it ignites Potter to respond with his own pyrotechnics in true simpatico.

Marsalis’ “Bells of Ascona,” the most evocative song on the album, is a hauntingly beautiful composition that features Marsalis’ tubular vibes ringing like the Church Bells they evoke. Johnson’s piano solo is particularly sensitive. Potter is all brush here and the group is for the most part reverent until Marsalis interjects an excerpt from a Christmas Carol partway through his solo, lightening it up for a brief second.

“Last Tune” is an under two-minute vocal summation by Potter, where he introduces the names of his bandmates while the group plays on in the background.  

Here is a video of Dave with The Jason Marsalis Quartet:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Flautist Nestor Torres enriches the repertoire with his "Jazz Flute Traditions"

Nestor Torres Jazz Flute Traditions

I have always enjoyed listening to jazz flute, so much so that in 2016 I wrote an article where I  documented some twenty-five performances that I felt were particularly noteworthy of the genre. You can link to that article here. The list was never intended to be all inclusive, just my personal compilation of some great jazz played on flute. I still feel the list represents a good cross-section of some of the best jazz artists on the instrument. But once you pull on a thread you never know where it may take you, and so when I recently received flautist Nestor Torres’ latest Jazz Flute Traditions it was like I was revisitng a history lesson in jazz flute.

Torres is a virtuoso whose work I had been previously unaware of. Originally from the island of Puerto Rico, he and his family emigrated to New York in 1975 when Torres was eighteen-years old. He studied classical and jazz flute at the Mannes School of Music in New York as well as at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In 1981, he moved to Miami where he continues to reside. He was well on his musical path, gaining wider popularity after his debut album, Morning Ride, quickly rose on the Billboard charts. Then tragedy struck in 1991. Torres was injured in a boating accident that left the flautist with multiple broken ribs, a shattered clavicle and a collapsed lung. After a long and tedious recovery that found him divorced and near destitute, he discovered solace in the spiritual practice of Nicherin Buddhism and made his way back to the music. Torres, a four-time Latin Grammy nominee and one-time Latin Grammy winner, has been sometimes pigeonholed in the smooth jazz category. But having played with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Arturo Sandoval and Tito Puente to name a few, his credentials as a bona fide jazz artist are secure and have only been reinforced with this latest album Jazz Flute Traditions.

Recorded live at Miami’s WDNA-FM Studios, Torres is joined by a superb core rhythm section of Silvano Monasterios on piano, Jamie Ousley on bass, Michael Piolet on drums and Jose Gregorio on percussion. Guest artists Ian Munoz on alto saxophone, Miguel Russel on percussion and Marcus Grant on drums are also heard on a few selections. 

Torres demonstrates his total understanding of the jazz flute tradition with his thoughtful selection of some of the genre’s most influential repertoire on this new album.  He starts the program with Moe Koffman’s “Swingin’ Shepherds Blues” made famous by the Canadian flautist back in 1949. Torres giving Koffman’s early treatment a little more punch and a little hum, easily showing his facility at a multiplicity of styles.

The flautist follows with the Herbie Mann classic “Memphis Underground” from Mann’s 1969 album of the same name. The group takes the audience on this pulsing drive, back to the late-sixties and the cool, hip sound Mann famously created. Torres evokes the chilled funk this song demands with equal aplomb.

One of the more interesting time travels on this album is Torres’ re-creation of the great flautist and band leader Esy Morales’ composition “Jungle Fantasy” from 1948. With its ostinato bass line, driving percussion and haunting flute lines, Torres plays tis one with wild abandon. Monasterios is a marvelously percussive pianist who shines on this one. The music just cooks and you can feel the audience bouncing in their seats.

Classical composer Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Adagio from Concierto De Aranjuez” was popularized by the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain released in 1960. It also became a vehicle of jazz flute interpretation when the pianist Chick Corea used it as a lead into his composition "Spain" from his Light as a Feather album from 1973. On that album, multi-instrumentalist Joe Farrell created an enduring jazz flute performance for the ages. Torres honors that performance with his own thrilling take on this masterful composition. Torres uses elements of his classical training to create a poignant intro before unleashing his Latin roots driven solo work on "Spain", dancing over Corea’s nimble lines with the grace of a gazelle. Ousley’s bass lines echo resoundingly and Monasterios is again propulsive.

No flute complilation would be complete without acknowledging the pioneering approach of the great Yuseff Lateef. Torres captures the maestro’s spiritual, eastern-inspired tone. With his masterful control, he is able to evoke a sense of profound beauty and peaceful reverence that Lateef surely would have appreciated.

One of the most controversial flute players of his time was the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk who often accentuated his playing with breathy accents and vocal hums. Torres does justice to Kirk’s raspy technique on the quirky “Serenade to a Cuckoo.” The version features Ousley’s walking bass lines and a nice alto solo by Ian Munoz.

Composer Luciano Berio and multi-instrumentalist/composer Eric Dolphy among others were inspired to write homages to the virtuoso Italian classical flautist Severino Gazzeloni. In artfully combining Berio’s “Sequenza” with Dolphy’s “Gazzelloni” Torres proves just how adept a student of the jazz flute he is. Torres classical chops are intact as he navigates Berio’s passages with skill and sensitivity, but he is just as adept at the more Avant-guarde approach that Dolphy employed during his Out to Lunch period. The ability of Torres to switch styles so seamlessly is a testament to the man's virtuosity.

“Cute” is a Neal Hefti composition written for Frank Wess when he was with the Count Basie Orchestra. The uplifting melody is played with verve and playful abandon. Guest drummer Marcus Grant offers some stellar brush work before Torres goes off in flight. His airy tone is a delight, buoyant and elevating, the band really swinging on this one.

Perhaps Torres most impressive work is on the composition “Windows,” from the Chick Corea 1968 album Inner Circles. The song was written by Corea for the master flautist Hubert Laws who played on the album. Laws was a huge influence on Torres and here he plays with a reverence that is palpable; a spellbound weaver spinning magical lines like wispy golden threads. His tone is pure, liquid and transcendent. The band responds in kind with a sensitive and moving supporting performance.

Cole Porter’s ballad “So in Love” is performed as a slow, sensuous lament. I’m unaware of the history of this song as part of the jazz flute repertoire (I did find the great Sam Most played it on his Organic Flute album from 2010 and the Canadian flautist Bill McBirnie on his 2015 album Find Your Place ), but clearly Torres does a masterful job making it a sensitive staple of his in this genre.

The finale is a cha-cha originally associated with bandleader Xavier Cugat’s Orchestra titled “Miami Beach Rhumba.” Torres’ trilled notes at the opening sets the stage for this Latin-inspired rhumba. The infectious beat keeps the crowd shaking. Monasterios is again at his best as Torres fires out high-pitched notes, like a stream of bullets over rousing fusillade of Latin percussion. 

Nestor Torres is a force to be reckoned with, anyone who loves jazz flute or is a serious student of the jazz flute repertoire should find his Jazz Flute Traditions a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a must have. Torres is a remarkable player and this ‘live’ recording just reinforces the excitement this fine musician can generate on his instrument.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Hazelrigg Brothers Take on the New American Songbook: "Songs We Like"

The Hazelrigg Brothers Songs We Like

For those who think that the Great American songbook is limited to the works of Porter, Berlin, Gershwin, Kahn, et al, then they are stuck in a time warp. While there is no denying the durability and constant source of inspiration that canon has produced, many of us grew up with our own Great American songbook, forged from the music and lyrics of rock, soul and pop music of the sixties and seventies. It is no surprise that contemporary jazz musicians are finding many of these gems, songs that still hold an appeal to younger audiences born years after they were first played, to be a news source of inspiration and interesting vehicles for improvisation. Songs We Like, a recent release from the Hazelrigg Brothers, is a case in point.

Following in the footsteps of artists like the Bad Plus or Brad Mehldau, and more ambitious outings like John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, pianist George Hazelrigg and brother bassist Geoff Hazelrigg along with the intuitive drummer John O’Reilly, Jr. have offered a thoroughly entertaining set of nine contemporary readings of some songs that seem to lend themselves naturally to creative interpretation in the jazz trio format.  

The compositions are as interesting as they are challenging. People who know the music well, often come to the music with expectations of how it should sound, but for the most part the Hazelriggs have managed to re-imagine these songs with enough fealty to the originals to satisfy even the most rabid purist. I found myself gleefully singing along with many of the tracks.

The songs run the gamut; chamber-rock from Jethro Tull, electric blues from Jimi Hendrix, Reggae-tinged pop from Men at Work, rock-jazz fusion from Steely Dan and contemporary pop from Sting; two from hard-metal rockers Led Zeppelin and one each from the classical composers Bela Bartok and Johann Fischer, makeup the slections.
The repertoire is fresh and played in an inspired impressionistic way. Jethro Tull’s “Living in The Past,” with Geoff’s dancing bass line introduction peppered with some rhythmically delicious tom work by drummer Reilly leads the way.

The Australian group “Men at Work,” whose reggae-inspired beats captivated the airways in the seventies, is represented by lead singer Colin Hay’s “Catch a Star.” The trio captures a stripped-down feel of the song, while carrying on a dynamic conversation amongst themselves. The only thing that is missing is the Australian’s haunting voice.

The music of Jimi Hendrix, long an inspiration to generations, is represented here by the psychedelia inspired “If 6 Was 9.” Who could expect to top the guitarist’s electronic wizardry or the sheer power of his dazzling virtuosity, but the Hazelrigg’s wisely do not attempt either. They strip the repeating bass line to its rhythmic, heart-throbbing core. The song is rendered as the three-chord blues it is, with some improvisational forays: an interesting off-to-the-races break, a featured drum solo of restrained polyphony and some weaving bass lines make for this interesting take on a Hendrix classic.

Bartok’s magisterial “Evening in the Country” features some animated, articulate pianowork by brother George, shimmering cymbal work by the understated Reilly and the buoyant bass of brother Geoff.

The piano opening on Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone,” is immediately recognizable and although the music cannot be expected to be as explosive as the metallic, heavy guitar-drum-centric original, the trio still pulls it off admirably with some excellent piano work by brother George building to a satisfying climax in a rumble of sound and fury.

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s music, the music of Steely Dan, is perhaps the music most easily adaptable to the jazz piano trio format and here on their “King of the World” it fits these guys like a glove. Isn’t this the way it was always played?

The trio returns to the classical realm with Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer’s “Passacaglia, from the Daughters of Zeus, Urania,” a pastoral composition that somehow gives the brothers a chance to show how classics can be modernly molded to fit the program without seeming at all out of place.

Sting’s “Spirit in the Material World” is played allegro with bassist Geoff adding some walking bass lines and some brief Arco accents.  O’Reilly has a sixth sense as to what works when these two intuitive brothers build a head of steam.

The set ends with another Led Zeppelin composition, “What Is and What Should Never Be.”  The trio treating this as a slow shuffle.

Songs We Like is an engaging recording that never strays too far away from the basic melodies that made these songs from the sixties and seventies so likeable and memorable in the first place. What the Hazelrigg Brothers and Mr. O’Reilly have shown is that they can also be the springboard for some inventive re-interpretation.   

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Matt Wilson's "Honey and Salt" : Music to the Poetry of Carl Sandburg

Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt

On his latest release Honey and Salt, the ebullient drummer Matt Wilson has created a suite of music that invigorates the bare, stoic verse of one of America’s great poets, Carl Sandburg. Wilson spells out his connections to this scribe in the liner notes; both are Mid-Westerners, both are of Swedish descent and Wilson was born just one town over from Sandburg’s birthplace of Galesburg, Illinois.  Besides the geographic ties, the eclectic drummer had a distant familial relationship with the poet that goes back three generations. Wilson has been fascinated by the poet’s work since his college days when he did a term paper on Sandburg and surprisingly discovered the man’s interest in jazz music.

But merging two artforms is always a tricky proposition. While jazz and poetry have always shared common ground, mixing the two can be problematic. Those wanting to hear the unvarnished words of the poet might be off-put by the intrusion of a musician’s interpretation; those more interested in the musician’s vision may miss the message within the poem.

Wilson has managed to walk the tightrope here. With Honey and Salt  he has created a masterful suite of music that both honors the verity within the poetry of Sandburg and at the same time enriches the experience of hearing the verse by pairing it with his wonderfully complimentary music.  

The Cd starts with Sandburg’s tome about a man eating a bowl of soup. The sixty-three-word poem, “Soup,” opens with a slow tempo blues beat. The unassuming voice of guitarist Dawn Thomson sings or speaks the poet’s words while tracing Wilson’s undulating melody-line. Wilson and bassist Martin Wind create an easy shuffle, with Wilson occasionally injecting a hint of frivolity into his playing, by adding  some kick-boom-bang accents at key points. Cornetist Ron Miles and multi-reed player Jeff Lederer weave a serpentine line in unison throughout, as Thomson plays some ragged guitar lines over the top.

As usual, Wilson’s energetic playing is the driving force behind the whole album. The man always exudes a sense of vibrancy and joy in every beat of his drum and every splash of his cymbal. He brings a range of emotions to all eighteen of the poems, each made musical here. The poems are all culled from “The Complete Works of Carl Sandburg” published in 1970, and the trap master counts two signed first edition copies of the book as prized possessions.

Wilson enlisted a coterie of jazzers to participate in this project, interestingly not as musicians, but as readers. Bassist Christian McBride bellows a reading of Sandburg’s “Anywhere and Everywhere People.”

I especially enjoyed Wilson’s sensuous music on “Night Stuff” which featured the deep-toned bass clarinet of Lederer and the Grace Slick-sounding voice of Thomson.

Guitarist John Scofield gives a coy reading to the playful “We Must Be Polite” which Wilson propels with a New Orleans’-style shuffle and features a honking, squeaking solo by the versatile Lederer. 

“Prairie Barn” is read by Lederer, which Wilson treats like the piece of Americana it is, with its solitary, softly played guitar lines strummed over the drummer’s percussive wind chime effect.

The comedic actor Jack Black, an honorary jazzer by virtue of his marriage to the late bassist Charlie Haden’s daughter, reads on “Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz,. The locked interplay between the soprano saxophone of Lederer and Wilson’s multi-timbered traps and toms are an album highlight.

“Paper II” is the poem Wilson treats in the most straight-ahead jazz manner. Guitarist Bill Frisell, somewhat tentatively without his gutisr in hand, reads the verse over Thomson’s comping guitar chords. Lederer and Miles offer a distinctively Blue Note-era sounding frontline treatment on this gritty blues. Wind’s walking bass line is like a bulkhead of stability and Lederer pours it on in an impressive display of raw tenor inventiveness.

The raspy baritone of bassist Rufus Reid is heard reading the lines of Sandburg’s “Trafficker,” a grim vision of a rather desperately unsuccessful woman of the night. Wilson uses his wispy brushes as Wind walks and a muted Miles sets the seamy night scene.

The short poem “Paper I” features the voice of saxophonist Joe Lovano, once again over the comping guitar chords of Thomson. Lovano’s  cool cadence and slick inflections lend a perfect hipster vibe to the verse “Are you a writer or a wrapper?”  One could almost substitute the word “rapper” for the poem’s “wrapper” and for modern day listeners there would be a whole new meaning.

Besides Wilson’s own reading of “As Wave Follows Wave,” the last reader is the composer Carla Bley, enlisted to read “To Know Silence Perfectly.” As a composer, Bley knows the effectiveness that silence-the space between the notes- can play in creating an effective musical statement. Wilson chooses his sparse sounds judiciously; Lederer on what sounds like a bass clarinet, Miles' nuanced open cornet, Thomson’s strummed guitar and Wind’s acoustic bass notes in an almost chamber-like arrangement. A perfectly complimentary musical message that coincide with the poet’s prescient words."To know silence perfectly is to know music."

The album ends with the joyous “Daybreak.” In Wilson’s typically upbeat manner, the drummer plays another New Orleans’ inspired shuffle, this one a Jambalaya of intertwining clarinet and cornet lines dancing to the infectious rhythm of a New Orleans march, as Thompson and backing vocals dance off into dawn.

Wilson’s lifelong admiration for the poet Carl Sandburg has now been codified with Honey And Salt, a genuine musical expression of appreciation. Carl Sandburg is an American treasure. With Honey and Salt Wilson has created a great new way for us to re-discover the poetry of this master of American verse. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Twenty-five + Great Jazz/Blues Organ Performances

The Hammond B3 is a beast of an instrument and the jazz-organ-trio format is a staple of the jazz idiom.

Tracings its origins back to a wind driven instrument-compressed air being pushed through multiple length tubes to sound various notes-the pipe-organ made its way into western religious ceremonies in the eighth century when Charlemagne installed one in his chapel in Aachen. For centuries since, the organ has been the musical instrument of choice in churches, temples and synagogues.
Laurens Hammond

Then came along came Laurens Hammond. Hammond was a mechanical engineer and he developed a patent in 1934 for an “electrical musical instrument” that was based on using tonewheel generators to produce sounds. His goal was to offer a cheaper alternative to the pipe organ for churches and places of worship and he succeeded with the introduction of his Hammond model A console organ in 1935. The low cost, much more compact electric organ was wildly successful and by the end of the nineteen thirty’s Hammond was producing two hundred of these organs a month. It wasn’t until 1954 that the B3, the prominent instrument used in jazz organ trios, was introduced by Hammond. The B3 added an additional percussive harmonic feature and its popularity with jazz and progressive rock artists was legendary, especially when paired with the rotating Leslie speaker system which produced a warbling, tremelo sound. The B3 model was modified in 1967 and has gone through numerous electronic iterations including a new XB3 that was made by Hammond-Suzuki and purportedly faithfully simulates the original tonewheel sound through electronics, but the original tonewheel generator B3 had a distinctive sound and feel and is the model most prized by aficionados.
The Hammon B3 Organ

It is speculation, but I suspect  that it wasn’t until organists, in predominantly Black churches, found themselves trying to musically simulate some of the fiery rhetoric and gospel sway of their preachers, that the instrument began to take on its powerfully soulful, danceable feel. The B3 would eventually be brought out of the church and into secular world and become a staple of the jazz tradition.

This list of twenty-five + great jazz/blues organ performances is an attempt to honor and celebrate some of the beautiful, soulful, swinging, adventurous music that has been made using the Hammond B3 organ. It is chronological staring with Waller and ending with Charette, but it easily could have been more inclusive given enough space and time. Some artists deserve more than one feature because of their exceptional body of work ( Jimmy Smith and Larry Young each have two selections), but space didn’t allow for additional selections. There will undoubtedly be some musicians who are missing entirely from the list and deserve to be included and for that I apologize.This is a very subjective list and lists by their nature are stupid ( as listmaker and jazz pianist/blogger Ethan Iverson has said), but somehow we are compelled to compile them, if only to ellicit some kind of response. and hopefully subsequent discussion.   subjective and I have limited space. Many thanks go to Mathew Kaminski the organist for the Atlanta Braves and a hullva fine jazzz organist himself, for his astute input. So for better or worse here is my list of twenty-five + great jazz/blues organ performances.

The organ tradition in jazz, is said to have started with Thomas “Fats” Waller, his playing steeped in gospel and intermingled with stride. The music had a certain bounce to it, a calliope sounding celebration. It was played on an Estey pipe organ, so it doesn't technically belong in a list of B3 performances, but it is the germ from which all subsequent jazz organ performances grew. So for historical reference, here is a sample from a 1927 recording of Waller at Trinity Church Studios in Camden, NJ.

Thomas “Fats” Waller: 1927 on the Estey Pipe Organ Camden, New Jersey “Stompin’ the Bug” 3min 39 secs

Using an organ was also seen by the club owners as a cheaper alternative  to the expense of hiring a seventeen-piece big band.

With its combined use of chorus and single line notes, the organ could create a bigger, broader sound. A deft technician could use creative positioning of his draw bars to mimic other instruments. It was like having a band in a box. Here Count Basie uses his organ technique to play his “KC Organ Blues” with his band reduced quintet.

1.       William James “Count” Basie: “K C Organ Blues” from the 1954 release Count Basie Sextet with Paul Quinchette (tenor), Freddie Green (gtr), Gene Ramey (bass), Buddy Rich (drms).    2min 52 secs

The innovators of the jazz organ trio sound could be heard percolating by the nineteen fifties with the formation of an influential jazz organ trio under the keyboard artistry of William Starthem “Wild Bill “Davis as heard on his 1957 release “Wild Blues.”

2.       . “Wild Bill” Davis: “Wild Blues” originally released as a single in 1957 with Wally Richardson (gtr) and unknown drummer                                                      2min 16 secs

By the late nineteen fifties Hollywood was already being influenced by the alluring sound of the jazz organ and one of my first exposures to a jazz style organ was on Henry Mancini’s arrangements for the silky Blake Edwards TV series Mr. Lucky from 1959. While technically not a traditional jazz or even a B3 performance ( the organ used was a Wurlitzer Theater Organ,) Mancini did intorduce the organ's lush, jazzy possibilities to a wider audience. I know it had a lasting effect on me. Here we hear Mancini’s deft use of studio musician Buddy Cole on this unforgettable tune.

3.       Buddy Cole: Wurlitzer Theater Organ on “Mr. Lucky from the 1960 album” Music from Mr. Lucky by Henry Mancini and his Orchestra.  2 min 2secs

In the fifties, on a parallel course to Wild Bill Davis in pioneering the use of the organ in the jazz trio format, was Missouri born Milton Brent “Milt” Buckner. Buckner is credited with developing the parallel chords style. Here he is heard playing with guitarist Kenny Burrell. The use of a guitarist as the other voice in the jazz organ trio became a popular format for the form.

4.       Milt Buckner: “Mighty High” from his album from 1960 Mighty High with Kenny Burrell 9gtr) Joe Benjamin (bass), Maurice Sinclaire (drms)              2 min 48 secs

Undoubtedly one of the most influential of all the Hammond B3 practitioners was “The Monster,” James Oscar “Jimmy” Smith. He switched to organ after hearing Wild Bill Davis in 1954. By 1956 he was offered a recording contract with Alfred Lion’s Blue Note Label after the impresario heard him in a Philadelphia club. Smith developed his own distinctive setting on the pull bars and along his percussive attack, this technique became known as the Jimmy Smith signature sound. He was also a facile improviser and was adept as using his bass pedals to simulate the sound of a walking string bass. Here is an early example of Smith’s indelible sound.

5.       Jimmy “The Monster” Smith: “The Sermon” from the 1959 album The Sermon with Lee Morgan(trpt), Kenny Burrell (gtr), Art Blakey (drms), Lou Donaldson (alto), Tina Brooks (tenor)
 20m 12 secs.

"Organ Grinder Swing" from the 1965 album Organ Grinder Swing with Kenny Burell (gtr) and Grady Tate (drms) 2 min 10 secs features Smith in his prime.

Smith was touring in Europe when German guitarist Paulo Morello asked him what it was like to work with such famous guitarist like Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Pat Martino. Smith was quoted as telling Morello “Listen man-I teach guitar.”   In fact, Smith played with many of the most notable jazz guitarists of his time including the aforementioned, Montgomery, Benson, Morello and Martino as well as Kenny Burrell, Grant Green and other fine players. He also played with horn players like Lou Donaldson, Lee Morgan and Tina Brooks.

After Jimmy Smith, there were whole legions of players who were undeniably influenced by his style on the B3. While many took on their own unique sound leaning more on soul, blues or funk, it wasn’t until Larry Young that the organ was taken into a completely different and more modern direction. Here are some of my remaining choices for most memorable performances on the instrument all the way into the modern day.

6.       James Harrell “Jimmy” McGriff: “All About My Girl” from MG Blues 1962    drummer unknown                                                                                           3min 54 secs

7.       “Brother” Jack McDuff :  “That’s A Goodun” from the 1963 album Live with George Benson (gtr),         Red Holloway (tenor). Joe Dukes (drms).   8min 16 sec

Don Patterson had arguably some of the most memorable performances on the B3, I choose this one.

8.       Don Patterson: “Hip Cake Walk” from the 1964 album Hip Cake Walk with Leonard Houston (tenor), Billy James (drms).                                                 16 min 40 sec

9.       Larry Young: aka Khalid Yasin “Luny Tune” on Grant Green’s 1964 Talkin’ About! With Grant Green (gtr), Elvin Jones (drms).     7 min 43 secs
Later on his brilliant 1966 album Unity with Elvin Jones (drms) "Monk's Dream."

10.   Richard “Groove” Holmes: “Misty” from the 1965 release Soul Message with George Randall (gtr) and Jimmie Smith (drms).  6min 1 sec 

11.   Shirley Scott : “Rapid Shave” from Queen of the Organ  live at the Front Room, Newark, NJ 1965.  with Stanley Turrentine (tenor), Bob Cranshaw (bs), Otis Finch (drms).   8 min 23 secs

12.   Charles “The Mighty Burner” Earland: “More Today Than Yesterday” from Black Talk  1969 with Melvin Sparks (gtr), Idris Muhammad (drms), Buddy Caldwell (congas), Houston Person ( tenor), Virgil Jones (trmpt).                             11 min 12sec 

The next selection is my tip of the hat to the whole generation of prog rockers that took up the mantle of the B3. While not truly jazz players, they did make the organ a memorable part of the music of the sixties, seventies and beyond. Lee Michaels played one of the best, most animated Blues organ solos I have ever heard “live.” He just rocked the house on that B3 and his playing was more traditionally rooted in the B3 jazz /blues sound, so I have used him as a surrogate for all those guys who rocked the B3. That list includes Keith Emerson, Jon Lord, Rod Argent, Brian Auger, Stevie Winwood, Greg Allman, Greg Rolei, Rick Wakeman, Booker T. Jones, Billy Preston, Mark Stien, Ray Manzarek, Garth Hudson, Mathew Fisher and Al Kooper.

13.   Lee Michaels “Stormy Monday” Blues from Lee Michaels 1969 with “Frosty” Bartholomew                     Eugene Frost-Smith   5 min 15secs

For many United States B3 followers the French organist Eddie Louiss will be a new name and many thanks to Noah Baerman at for pointing this fine artist out to me.

14.   Eddy Louiss: “Bohemia After Dark” from the 1972 album Bohemia After Dark with Jimmy Gourley (gtr), Guy Pederson (bass), Kenny Clarke (drms).   5min 53 secs

15.   Joey DeFrancesco: “Work Songfrom the 1993 Live at the Five Spot with Robert Landham (alto),  Paul Bollenback (gtr), Byron “Wookie” Landham (drms), Grover Washington Jr. (tenor), Jim Henry (trmpt). 9 min 33 secs

16.   Larry Goldings: “The Acrobat” from Peter Bernstein’s 1998 Earthtones with Peter Berntstein (gtr) and Bill Stewart (drms).     9 min 59 secs

17.   Barbara Dennerlein and Rhoda “Barefoot Lady” Scott : “Nova” from a live performance in Switzerland in 2002 with Felix Simtaine (drms).  8min 22 secs

18.   Sam Yahel: “Truth and Beauty” from his 2005 album Truth and Beauty with Joshua Redman (tenor) and Brian Blade (drms.)       7min 59 secs

19.   Pat Bianchi: “Theme for Ernie” from his 2006 album East Coast Roots with Mark Whitfield (grt), Bryon Landham (drms)

20.   Vince “The Prince” Seneri: “Overdrive” from the 2007 album The Prince’s Groove with Randy Brecker (trpt), Paul Bollenback (gtr), Gary Fritz (perc), Buddy Williams (drms).   4 min 33 secs

21.   Tony Monaco: “S’About” from his 2008 album Tony Monaco Live at the Orbit Room  with Ted Quinlan (gtr), Vito Rezza (drms).    11 min 49 secs

22.   Dr. Lonnie Smith: “A Matterapat” from his Up!  from 2009 with Peter Bernstein (gtr), Donald Harrison (alto), Herlin Riley (drms).                             6min 47 secs 

23.   Mike LeDonne: “Bopsolete” from his 2010 release The Groover with Eric Alexander (tenor), Peter Bernstein (gtr), Joe Farnsworth (drms).   6 min 5 secs

24.    Jared Gold: “Shadowboxing” from his 2013 release Intuition with Dave Stryker (gtr) and McCLenty    Hunter (drms).                   5 min 5 secs

25.   Brian Charette: “Aiight!!” from 2014 release Square_One with Yotam Silberstein (gtr) and Mark Ferber (drms).      3 min 23 secs

Lest we forget anyone not mentioned above. honorable mentions go out to John Medeski, Will Blades, Big John Patton, Greg Allman, Clare Fischer, Peter Levin, Radam Schwartz,  Hank Marr, Reuben Wilson, Leon Spencer Jr., Lou Bennett, Johnny Hammond Smith, T. Lavitz, Dave Seibel, Robert Walter, Neal Evans, Gary Versace, Don Pullen and Booker T. Jones and all the other  prog rock B3 players that were mentioned above.