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I must confess that I recently signed a petition to call for the end of B3 organ recordings. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the jazz organ playing by Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland, and Sun Ra... just that with the reinvestigation of the instrument since the late 1980s and 1990s the storm gates have opened for John Medeski, Larry Goldings, Joey D – not to mention the return of Mr. Smith, Jack McDuff, and Big John Patton – to name just the tip of the iceberg. It seemed for a time that if you could press a couple of keys, you could make a record.
So when one of the truly great undiscovered jazz pianists of our time sits down at the B3, I hestitate before I push play. Sure George Colligan has taken up the organ on the latest discs by Lonnie Plaxico and Robin Eubanks, but those were supporting roles. His lightness of touch is surely wasted on the electric sound. Well, maybe a little.
This essentially organ/guitar/drum affair is broken up on five tracks by post M-BASE saxophonist Gary Thomas. The title track is a quirky little fuse-rocked piece with guitarist Tom Guarna working in the Scofield school to great effect. Power rock and jazz are certainly crowd pleasers. Likewise, “Modieidi’s Modalities” serves up the organ fusion meets bebop to high energy ratings. Colligan’s popping organ sets up the coolness of Thomas’ tenor waves.
The leader's “Seduction” is a light slow-danced melody, a certain favorite for jazz radio. “Thought Police” opens with a crushing drum solo by Rodney Holmes, then on to some nice tandem guitar/saxophone work.
Throughout, Colligan accents, solos, but never wows like he does when he plays acoustically. How is it that he can play merely a supporting role to a fine recording by Mr. Thomas and Mr Guarna here? Unselfishness? Maybe, or maybe it's that the organ trio died a while ago and nobody has let the record companies know.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.