This year has seen an organ renaissance. Organ jazz had its genesis in Fred Longshaw, who performed with a reed organ on the 1925 Bessie Smith recording of "St. Louis Blues." Fats Waller was a pipe organ virtuoso. Count Basie introduced the organ into swing music, giving way to Wild Bill Davis, who predicted Jimmy Smith and soul jazz. And then there was Jimmy Smith and all who came after. Larry Young learned from Miles Davis and developed organ practice in modal jazz. Then came the lions: Joey DeFrancesco, Larry Goldings, and Jeff Palmer.
Enough about the organ. Greg Skaff, the leader here, is a guitarist. His contemporaries on the instrument are Paul Bollenback, Randy Johnson, Dave Stryker, and Peter Bernstein. He stands at the forefront guitar-based organ trio jazz.
Currently working in Bobby Watson's band, Skaff has also been sharing his time with Ruth Brown and Freddie Hubbard. Where the guitarist really cut his teeth was in the band of the late Stanley Turrentine, where he learned the ropes on tenor-organ jazz. Here he joins Mike LeDonne on the B-3 and Joe Farnsworth on drums, both veterans of many organ trios. These three team up on an engaging set of originals and standards. The original opener is Skaff's take on "Yesterdays." It positively slow-burns. "Blues for Mr. T" is a complex little blues line, in keeping with Turrentine's philosophy of keeping it soulful.
Like many of the most recent organ trio outings, Blues for Mr. T does not every fall into the category of 12-bar blues blowing session. The songs are all well crafted and executed. This album is a splendid companion for Dave Stryker's recordings for Khaeon. Recommended.