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Album Review

Organ Fairchild: Leisure Suit


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Organ Fairchild: Leisure Suit
Nattily attired as Organ Fairchild is in the cover photo of Leisure Suit, the last word in the album title would seem to take the form of a verb rather than a noun. The fast-evolving ensemble strives for and reaches a playful atmosphere on this, their sophomore studio outing, but that's hardly the extent of their ambition(s).

By emphasizing exploratory electric guitar and keyboard work within concise arrangements, the threesome aims to mesh the classic jazz styles of both Jimmy Smith and Grant Green. In the economical approach to their concept, the Buffalo-based trio nevertheless travels outside the strict confines of the instrumental conceit to which its name alludes.

In doing so with such bravery, Organ Fairchild has almost but not quite fully processed their main influences. Guitarist Dave Ruch, for instance, still evokes vintage Carlos Santana a bit too obviously on "Morning Coffee." But kudos to him for his impeccable taste and artful execution in such moments: he and the comparatively young collective (together since 2020) are quite clearly having a ball finding their own voice, as evidenced by Joe Bellanti's often imaginative piano work on that very same cut.

In that respect, the unit's valiant efforts during numbers like "Chamelonious Monk"—another knowing nod to history—are further validated through the efforts of their technical collaborators. Recording and mixing the nine tracks (and even playing on the darkly atmospheric "Rusty Barge"), co-producer (with the band itself) Justin Guip is the current drummer for Hot Tuna and a three-time Grammy Award winner who worked directly with the late drummer/vocalist of The Band, Levon Helm, at his barn in Woodstock. Meanwhile, Soulive's co-founder/drummer Alan Evans—who also established and operates his own Iron Wax studio—mastered the recordings to clean and realistic effect.

Their expertise manifests itself throughout Leisure Suit and in fact, immediately comes into play on the opening title cut of Ruch's. Drummer Corey Kertie's percussion amplifies a summery air that belies an deceptive concession to the current fashion of covering compositions of the Grateful Dead. As it turns out, that move is merely a decoy to allow this triad of effervescent instrumentalists to transform Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "He's Gone" almost beyond recognition.

Such action(s) hold to the vaunted jazz tradition of using popular song as fodder for extended jamming. Similarly, Organ Fairchild's assertive initiative nurtures selfawareness of their stylistic touchpoints. Along those lines, the group would do well to stretch out more as they do for just over six minutes on Kertzie's other contribution, "Glad You're Here;'' in doing so, however, the aforementioned keyboardist's use of fluid organ instead of antiseptic synthesizer would more effectively complement the guitar lines (not to mention remain more in keeping with the wry moniker of the group).

Proceeding to its collective coming of age, Organ Fairchild is the epitome of a thinking man's bar band. If their burgeoning maturity provides a gateway for listeners to discover the aforementioned masters of the jazz idiom, the readily accessible nature of this rookie band's improvisational tendencies will have served a noble purpose indeed. And that's even beyond the indelible imprint of their own distinctive persona on those who hear Leisure Suit.

Track Listing

Leisure Suit; Chamelonious Monk; Morning Coffee; He's Gone; Bobby Pins Glad You're Here; The Woodturner; Over the Handlebars; Rusty Barge.


Joe Bellanti: keyboards; Dave Ruch: guitar; Corey Kertzie: drums; Justin Guip: percussion.

Album information

Title: Leisure Suit | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced

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