For a testament to what a trio can accomplish when they spend years working together, look no farther than organissimo. Over the course of nearly a decade, organist Jim Alfredson, guitarist Joe Gloss and drummer Randy Marsh have developed strong group instincts and a knowing way of approaching every groove. As a result, Groovadelphia can keep heads bopping for quite some time.
"Senor Buffet" shows off the best of the band. Marsh drives an exciting Latin groove into a swing feel while Gloss comps with great sympathy under Alfredson's organ lines. On his own solo, Gloss uses creative offbeat rhythms to edge the song forward. The outing closes with an energetic vamp figure that lets the drummer run free. The song makes it clear that these very competent musicians are out to have a good time together.
The middle of the album features some tender down-tempo tunes, artfully composed but lacking the excitement of the bigger grooves. The trio soon returns to tight swinging, though. "Bleecker" enters so subtly that the economy with which Alfredson and Marsh outline a piquant rhythmic structure might go unnoticed. With both melody and improvisation, Gloss has a perfect touch here, sounding reminiscent of guitar greats like Mick Goodrick. Alfredson's organ solo bursts in authoritatively and raises the bar once again.
The bluesy and soulful "My Sweet Potato Pie" features Marsh in a dual role, providing both call-and-response percussion and a deft harmonica solo. The song, penned by Marsh's father Arno, feels inimitably classic. Showing the band's breadth, it's followed by Alfredson's solo composition "Rhodesia," a memorable and evocative ballad.
Many associate the modern-day organ trio solely with Medeski, Martin & Wood, but to do so means leaving out part of the picture. organissimo doesn't aim for the same kinds of funk experiment as MMW, moving instead towards a laid-back, soulful appeal. Groovadelphia signals the full range of possibilities within this musical arrangement, and fans will doubtlessly be returning to organissimo for years to come.
Personnel: Jim Alfredson: keyboards; Joe Gloss: guitars; Randy Marsh: drums, harmonica.