Organism: The Jazz Organ Renaissance
Slowly but surely, the organ trio is beginning to enjoy a healthy resurgence. Spurred on by the recent likes of Joey DeFrancesco, Tony Monaco, and Larry Goldings and the front guard of Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Jimmy McGriff, home cookin' has become fashionable again. Presently, organist Ken Clark and his trio are submitted for your approval.
Ken Clark leads a tidy organ guitar trio that specializes in funk. The band's arrangements and executions of two standards and eight originals are hermetically sealed and swing hard in spite of it all. This is not blues-based organ music. It is also not the meandering Jam Band produce of recent memory. While I am sure these guys can (and do) stretch out, here the trio holds things down to short epistles rather than sprawling novels. The longest song is 6:15 ("Truth Is"), the shortest 3:28 ("Eternal Funk").
Immediately noticeable is Clark's deft footwork. "Eternal Funk" begins with a slick bass line that gives way to a full-force gale of hurricane funkiness. This shows up again on "Duke Ellington Superstar" and "Rhythm & Biz." The former, an original Clark composition is perhaps the finest and tightest combo playing on the disc, sporting the insistent rhythm of Mike Mele and Steve Chaggaris, whose chase of Clark's off-time antics lead to a most foot-tapping song. Miles' "Blue in Green" receives a beautifully mellow reading, funky as a house rent party to be sure, but a wonderful ballad performance and well treated by this format.
This is not fried chicken eatin', cold beer drinkin', Lucky Strike smokin' organ trio music. It goes with peanuts and cashews, a traditional gin martini, and a twenty dollar cigar. A super freshman effort indeed.
Track Listing: Eternal Funk; The Curse; Duke Ellington Superstar; Blue in Green; The Doctor is In; Right Now; Young One; Rhythm & Biz; On The Cuff; Truth Is.
Personnel: Ken ClarkHammond B-2 Organ, Fender Rhoades; Mike MeleGuitar; Steve ChaggarisDrums.
Sylvia Cuenca / Kyle Koehler / Dave Stryker
Sylvia Cuenca is an up-and-coming drummer/percussionist who has plied her wares with the likes of Clark Terry (check out Herr Ober ), David Glasser, Ron McClure, Don Friedman, and Eddie Henderson. She now co-leads the Exit 13 date with organist Kyle Koehler, who most recently has been providing piano support to Matthew Parris (see Circles ). Here, Koehler trades the eighty-eight for an organ and the duo adds the capable Dave Stryker to the mix to produce a low-fat organ trio. Stryker most recently may be heard supplying Anglo-Latin grit to Trio Mundo (see Carnival ).
Having introduced the principals, the trio performs a seamless brand of jazz that is all bean sprouts and fruit juice, as opposed to the barbecue and beer of Jimmy Smith and Grant Green. Nothing wrong with that. Stryker kicks off the party with a blues, "Miss C's Shuffle" ostensibly dedicated to the band's beautiful leader. Stryker also donates the upbeat "Happy," on which Koehler lays down a plush carpet of groove, accented by Ms. Cuenca's deft traps. Koehler provides the title track, offering the drummer to show off her chops, and "Big Ed," a cool funk piece. Lester Young swing is represented with "Ritha," a piece that strolls along with the Rodgers and Hart standard, "Easy to Remember." Exit 13
Exit 13is a wholesome dose of healthy jazz, well conceived and performed. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Miss C's Shuffle; Exit 13; Slow, Hot Wind; Big Ed; Ritha; Minor League; Happy; It's Easy to Remember; Croquet. (Total Time 60:26).
Personnel: Sylvia Cuenca-Drums; Kyle Koehler-Organ; Dave Stryker-Guitars.