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Extended Analysis

Deep Blue Organ Trio: Deep Blue Bruise

By Published: June 13, 2005
Deep Blue Organ Trio

Deep Blue Bruise



At last, an honest, straight-ahead organ trio record.

There are no affectations here such as twenty-minute jam bandlike noodling; no additional synthesizer or other electronic riffs added to simple, yet powerful rhythms; and no attempts to transform grunge classics into funk numbers. Instead the band works out on a collection of originals, jazz and rock classics and—to be honest—tunes that skirt schlock, making them all instant foot tappers that impress as they lock into the groove.

Guitarist Booby Broom, whose associations included stints with tenor master Sonny Rollins is the national name here. No stranger to organ combos, he had a long relationship with the late organist Charles Earland. Drummer Greg Rockingham was in the Earland band as well. Although Chris Foreman's background encompasses soul dues with bluesman Albert Collins and funk saxophonist Hank Crawford, his organ playing has less tremolos and frequent crescendos. It's funky, but restrained and refined at the same time—he never overuses effects.

Deep Blue's secret weapon is Rockingham, who in the majority of cases is as diffident as a drummer in these circumstances can be—his beat is sensed not heard. You can get an idea of this on "It Was a Very Good Year," the old Frank Sinatra chestnut. Treated with the seriousness it deserves, the drummer's flams, rolls and bounces are barely there, contributing to the gentle swinging pulse. Using a rapid but cool tremolo, Foreman limns the melody, with snapping echoes from Broom. When the organist's lines turn stentorian with double keyboard work, it's only to express counterpoint with the guitarist. Eventually both relax into theme variations than recapitulation.

Broom's fleet-fingered fills on "Willow Weep for Me" arise generically from the tune; they're not added on for prettiness or funkiness. Cooking, the organ man's flailing double and triples stops accelerate in the last couple of minutes to portamento riffs as the drummer pounds out a beat you'd be more likely to hear behind "Got My Mojo Workin.'" Finally, Foreman turns to repeated slurs with one hand holding on to the drone and the other cracking off theme variations. "Can't Hide Love" finds Broom suddenly quoting "A Love Supreme" while Foreman's squealed and smeared licks encompass Brother Jack McDuff-like protracted held notes. Meanwhile "Granted" retains its fast bebop form as Broom picks out high intensity vamps, Foreman's octave spanning stops-and-starts, and plenty of room for drum breaks from Rockingham.

Using reverb pulsations, the three manage to make something funky out of the rock trifle "Raspberry Beret," but a couple of tracks are beyond redemption. The trio's "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" sags under cocktail lounge stiffness that almost turns stifling, while "Light My Fire" features some double time variations on a theme that wasn't too instrumentally strong in the first place. Rockingham is reduced to simple rock band pounding. Broom does get both a slurred lead and bass lines from his guitar, but he's not only more mature than Robbie Kreiger was in '67, but a better player. And it goes without saying that Foreman's swinging right hand supersedes anything Ray Manzarek could have done to the hit composition. Still the band should seek out better cover material.

Deep Blue Bruise is a fine example of the continued legitimately of the jazz organ trio—in the right hands. With stronger song choices, the Deep Blue three should triumph.

Track Listing: These Foolish Things; Café Regio's; It Was a Very Good Year; Raspberry Beret; Granted; Can't Hide Love; Willow Weep for Me; Light My Fire; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; Deep Blue Bruise.

Personnel: Chris Foreman: organ; Bobby Broom: guitar; Greg Rockingham: drums.

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