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This album finds alto saxophonist Oliver Lake in a groovesome incarnation, less disposed than usual towards avant exploration. He's utilizing the classic Hammond organ construction, though without any guitarist in sight. It's just Lake, B3 man Jared Gold and drummer Johnathan Blake, getting pretty close to the expectations of a '60s formula, though still surprising with a few sideways tweaks. The session is produced by Lake's son Jahi, capturing a fully pulsing sound throughout, solid, warm and fruity.
"In Walked John" makes a bold opener, the first of two numbers written by the departed Chicagoan trumpeter Malachi Thompson, establishing the tones to come with its typical trundle. All of the other tunes are scribed by Lake himself, besides the traditional gospel conclusion "I Want To Walk With Jesus." "Gano" follows, beginning with an insistent fanfare figure that gives way to a walking groove. Gold's solo is percussively spiky, then Lake's alto is in its bluesiest state for "Say Girl," soulfully singing over Blake's skipping beats.
Lake repeatedly nudges the edges of free playing, but within a context of linear body-nodding. Gold's foot-pedal basslines sound completely separated from the mind that's operating the upper keys, which is a positive factor, effectively creating a phantom band member who achieves some remarkably low notes. "Move Groove" states its ambulatory, circling theme, jittery drumwork making way for the agitated organ spillage of the title cut, as the leader continues his wiry alto contortions. "Dedicated To B.C." is the most conventionally jazz-funkin' piece (almost too much so) and the finger-clickin' "Jesus" heads towards a steaming climax. This is Lake as he's rarely heard and offers a refreshing alternative to his mostly out-there output.
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.
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.