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Organissimo: B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four

Dan McClenaghan By

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Guitarist Grant Green was one of the early birds on this: turning Beatles tunes into soulful jazz workouts, with his I Want to Hold Your Hand (Blue Note, 1965), featuring Hammond organ master Larry Young on the B3, recorded a little over a year after the Fab Four's musical invasion of America. But it was mostly a jazz standards/Great American Songbook outing, with only the opener/title tune nodding to the—ultimately—most influential of pop music groups.

Now, fifty years later, Organissimo goes all in, with B3tles, a CD full of Beatles tunes in a cool, soul jazz mode.

Jim Alfredson hold down the B3 chair, and adds the Wurlitzer and some synthesizer sounds to arsenal. He is joined by guitarist Lawrence Barris and drummer Randy Marsh, on a set that reinterprets these familiar tunes, sometimes injecting them with soul, sometimes taking them in unexpected directions.

The CD's cover art harkens to the cover of the Beatles first great album, their artistic breakthrough, Revolver (Capitol Records, 1966). With that it mind, the music starts fittingly with the Organissimo's version of George Harrison's "Taxman," the song that opened Revolver. Funky it is. The same for "Dig A Pony," a tune that seems made for the organ trio treatment. "Come Together"—that probably should have Chuck Berry added to Lennon McCartney tag for a songwriting credit, so you know it's got some hard-edged, Chess Records soul to it—sounds like a song the previously-mentioned Grant Green/Larry Young teaming should have tackled on a second recorded nod to the Beatles. But they couldn't have done it better or with more of a bluesy funk than Organissimo does.

"The Long And Winding Road" is lighter, more pop-ish in feel, buoyant and effervescent. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the George Harrison gem, takes things away from the soul atmosphere, slowing down the original's tempo, giving the song a beautiful, aching-in-the-bones sadness, leading into the set's closer, "Within You Without You," George Harrison's first full-on foray into Indian music. Organissimo's take is propulsive over dense drones, dense rhythms, and it sounds marvelously modern, on this outstanding and dynamic re-investigation of some classic Beatles tunes.

Track Listing: Taxman; Dig A Pony; And I Love Her; All You Need Is Love; Can't Buy Me Love; I Will; Dear Prudence; Come Together; The Long And Winding Road; If I Fell; While My Guitar Gently Weeps; Within You Without You.

Personnel: Jim Alfredson; Hammond organ, Wurlitzer Electric piano; synthesizers; Lawrence Barris: guitar; Randy Marsh: drums; Bill Vits: percussion (1, 3, 5, 9, 12); Mike List: tabla (12).

Title: B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Big O Records

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