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Melvin Rhyne: Kojo

C. Andrew Hovan By

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Melvin Rhyne: Kojo Taking advantage of the cyclical nature of fads and stylistic "ins" and "outs", Melvin Rhyne is lucky to be part of the current renaissance movement involving the classic sound of the Hammond B-3 organ and the type of funky fare that was prosperous and bountiful during the ‘60s. Of course, Rhyne was around during the heydays as a member of Wes Montgomery’s touring trio. Now this Milwaukee resident has caught the other side of the upswing with a renewed interest in his particular brand of jazz organ. Added now to four previous Criss Cross dates as a leader, two as a co-leader with the Tenor Triangle and several sideman appearances for the small Dutch independent, Kojo is Rhyne’s latest offering and it serves us a savory and filling plate of grooves that are sure to please.

Over the course of his many Criss Cross dates Rhyne has developed quite a simpatico relationship with guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Kenny Washington. The three function like an integrated machine, anticipating and feeding lines off of each other with the refinement of well-trained athletes. Rhyne's own style is really something out of the ordinary in that he seems to have eschewed the histrionic displays often associated with the organ and with followers of Jimmy Smith. He also has a knack for writing great hooks that stick in your mind long after the song has ceased. Just sample "Loose Change", which sports a catchy descending triplet melody over a heavy Latin groove that then gives way to a double-timed samba for the bridge. More involved than your typical organ grinder fare, but still down to earth enough to connect with the listener, Rhyne and company deliver an agreeable mix of originals and standards that nicely flow from one to the next.

As for Melvin's buddies here, much has already been written regarding Peter Bernstein's lissome guitar work. His Grant Green-inspired tone fits so well with the organ trio format (just sample him with Lonnie Smith and Larry Goldings for further proof) and his lines are so sensible and tuneful that one can't help but savor every note. Drummer Kenny Washington, in addition to being a sagacious jazz historian and radio dee-jay, is simply one of the best drummers of his generation, with a characteristic sound and encouraging swing that can lift even the dullest session out of monotony. Taken as a threesome, Rhyne, Bernstein, and Washington can seemingly do no wrong and have come up with another winner. Thanks, guys, and keep 'em comin'!


Track Listing: Blue Gold, Blues for Mike and Teju, The End of a Love Affair, I Wish I Knew, Blue 'n' Boogie, Loose Change, In a Sentimental Mood, A Time for Love, Dorothy (61:40)

Personnel: Melvin Rhyne- organ, Peter Bernstein- guitar, Kenny Washington- drums, Daniel G. Sadownick- percussion (tracks 6 & 9 only)

Title: Kojo | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Criss Cross


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