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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.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.