With the popularity of Hammond B-3 organ-based recordings, it's becoming hard to differentiate one from another. Ever since the patriarchal organ sounds of Jimmy Smith's hot greased soul and Larry Young's smooth sophistication, the organ combo has flourished. Copenhagen alto saxophonist Benjamin Koppel offers his spin on the idiom with Hammond Street.
Koppel is a versatile and gifted player who has led ensembles in jazz, crossover and classical music. He's an alto stylist with a tone similar to Phil Woods and Greg Osby; his horn is quick and lyrical. And when you add these attributes to the in-demand drumming of Bill Stewart and one of today's foremost B-3 players, Larry Goldings, the result is more than just your average B-3 grind session.
On eight originals and a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Make Sure You're Sure, Koppel leads the trio in a what feels like a live setting where the interaction among the musicians creates an utterly enjoyable atmosphere. There's a some experimentation on "H.T.E.S.T.A.C, where Goldings pulls off a cathedral organ timbre, and some heavy bop on "Ostrich Itch, where the trio engages in playful communication and unexpected solos, wrapping the piece up with an abstract ending.
The ballads "Jetlag and "Holtemmen are alluring and poignant, with Koppel's soulful sax burning against luxuriant backdrops as the trio plays with intimacy. They swing hard on "Pasadena Pancakes and close the set with "Coconino County (Part II ) a prime cut of savvy and groove-inspired music.
Track Listing: Ostrich Itch;
H.T.E.S.T.A.C ((how to explain socialism to a cat));
Make Sure You're Sure;
Coconino County (Part II).
Personnel: Benjamin Koppel: alto saxophone; Larry Goldings: Hammond B-3 organ; Bill Stewart: drums.
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.