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Oliver Lake: Makin' It

Hrayr Attarian By

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Changing a few elements of a well known musical format may be all that is needed to create a new and fresh sound.

Makin' It, Oliver Lake has taken the old saxophone organ trio popularized in the 1950s by the likes of Ike Quebec and made it into a new vehicle for 21st century improvised music. He has replaced the tenor saxophone—the instrument traditionally associated with this combo—with his alto. Though he remains true to the gospel-inflected and bluesy sound of the older groups, he has injected a hefty dose of free improvisation into the music, pushing the boundaries of the music and flirting with the avant-garde.

Initially influenced by Eric Dolphy, Lake has long developed his unique alto sound, which comes through loud and clear on this CD as his saxophone takes center stage. Supporting him are Jared Gold on Hammond B3 organ, sounding like a modern day Larry Young with a hint of "greasier" sounding organists such as Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff, and drummer Jonathan Blake, who maintains the trio's rhythm and provides the cadence for the others' solos like a talented musical timekeeper.

The compositions are primarily by Lake himself with a couple by trumpeter Malachi Thompson and a traditional gospel piece, which closes the program. Despite a bit of repetition in musical themes around the middle of the record, this is a very stimulating session that successfully marries the soul-jazz format of the organ/saxophone/drums trio to freer improvisations and edgy avant-garde styles. Known for genre bending for most of his career, it's not a surprise that Oliver Lake is the musician who brings such a rewarding and exciting album.

Track Listing: In Walked John; Gano; Say Girl; Spirit Of Man; Nu Peace; Move Groove; Makin' It; Dedicated To B.C.; Olla's Blues; I Want To Walk With Jesus.

Personnel: Oliver Lake: alto saxophone; Jared Gold: Hammond B3 organ; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Title: Makin' It | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Passin' Thru Records

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