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George Coleman Organ Trio: New York, NY, October 26, 2012

Ernest Barteldes By
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The George Coleman Organ Quintet
The Jazz Standard
New York, NY
October 26, 2012

Nearing the end of a weeklong residency at New York's Jazz Standard, George Coleman and his Organ Quintet kicked off their sold-out first set on Friday night, October 26, with a New Orleans-like shuffle led by guitarist Russell Malone, allowing the saxophonist's supporting quartet the chance to warm up and stretch.

As the band began a second number reminiscent of Carlos Santana's "Evil Ways," Coleman quietly joined in and took the lead. As the tune progressed, it gradually shifted into a samba mode, and the bandleader improvised, largely around the melody. It was a great opportunity for percussionist Daniel Sadownick to demonstrate his dexterity with an Afro-Cuban feel, while Malone made the song his own with a few well-placed riffs between the beats.

Demonstrating that this was about improvised music, Coleman jumped into the third number without a count in, the band scrambling for a few seconds to find the key, but eventually coming together as the bandleader took the tune into a more straight-ahead groove. Coleman played a short solo and opened the space for Malone, who played mostly around chords, while organist Mike LeDonne and drummer Chuck McPherson kept a tight rhythm section.

Coleman then picked up the microphone, thanked the audience, briefly introduced the band and went right into "Honky Tonk," a classic 12-bar blues played with a Mississippi feel. This was essentially a blues jam, and Malone once again took the lead, playing in the key of E (which reportedly guitarists love but horn players hate) and channeling B.B. King-like licks. Coleman did a lot of soloing here, widely exploring his instruments possibilities to great results. LeDonne took a more conservative approach, playing a solo based on quieter, subtler notes.

The set closed with a "harder" bebop-like piece that was centered on the bandleader's notes-a most perfect way to end one a highly memorable evening.

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