The Joe Kap Organ Trio: Street Noise (2004)
With the Hammond B-3 organ making a comeback in recent years, it’s surprising how many artists are prepared to lug around these four-hundred pound behemoths; but the numbers are increasing and, while the Hammond’s distinctive sound makes for engaging listening, the number of players who are actually making a modern statement with the instrument can be easily counted. Larry Goldings, Dan Wall and John Medeski all make compelling cases for the instrument. And, while keyboardist Joe Kaplowitz has a clear understanding of seminal B-3 players like Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff as well as the aforementioned modern players, with Street Noise he delivers a set which, while pleasant enough, says little new.
That’s not to say this isn’t an enjoyable record. Kaplowitz, or Kap, covers a number of bases on this mostly self-penned recording. “The Cold Chill” lopes along with that greasy groove that Medeski, Martin and Wood have made so popular; drummer Marty Morrison demonstrates the same kind of slap-happy playing as Billy Martin. “Myrtle Avenue Street Crawl,” with its dark edge, could come from the pen of Larry Goldings; guitarist Paul Pieper plays with the same lazy phrasing and blues influence that is typical of John Scofield, but with less angularity. “Eldorado” swings along nicely, with Kap displaying good command over his instrument’s tone and some commendable chops.
To their credit the trio plays with a chemistry that certainly elevates the session above a rote reading of the various styles that are represented; Kap and Morrison, in particular, play with a strong commitment, relaxed without losing a necessary intensity. Sadly, Pieper is the weak link. Harmonically limited and somewhat tentative at times, he may have potential, but it is not realized here. But to be fair, these are all young players and, while they have yet to develop distinctive styles, they do show promise to varying degrees.
And Kap aspires to modernity. “The Mad Scientist,” with its oblique melody and slippery groove, definitely has a contemporary edge. “Like Water” finds Morrison coming from Bill Stewart space, and Pieper actually delivering the standout solo. “Mister Heid” sounds like it could have come from Scofield’s A Go Go session; Pieper even dirties up his sound to give it extra edge. The two “Street Noise” tracks are free excursions that show the trio can take things out when they want.
So, all in all, a pleasant way to spend an hour; and that’s more than can be said for many new releases. The Joe Kap organ trio may not have a distinctive language, but the record does make for a fun listen. Street Noise , at the very least, demonstrates the potential for better things to come; hopefully the trio will stick around long enough to find its voice.
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Track Listing: Street Noise Pt. 1; Myrtle Avenue Street Crawl; The Cold Chill; Sleeping on the Job; Eldorado; The Mad Scientist; It's Alright With Me; Try It Baby; Like Water; Mister Heid; Street Noise Pt. 2; Neurosis
Personnel: Joe Kaplowitz (Hammond B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes), Marty Morrison (drums, percussion), Paul Pieper (guitar)