Finding an organ in a gathering of more than four in jazz seems to be taboo, yet no logic exists behind this unspoken truth. The organ is constantly making friends with guitars and drums, with the occasional singular horn dropping by to converse with them, but the possibility of a broader social circle always seems to elude this unwieldy instrument. Thankfully, organist Brian Charette is helping to rectify this issue.
On Music For Organ Sextette, Charette weaves a unique and gripping aural tapestry together with a mélange of woodwinds serving as the thread. He channels his energy into creating constructs that benefit from the blending of multiple voices, yet remain flexible enough to allow for outspoken soloists to have their say. Charette's organ voice is prominent throughout as he cuts swaths through the sonic fields that lay before him and rides the tides of energy created by drummer Jochen Rueckert, but this outing is a true team effort.
The personnel list remains consistent from start to finish, but stylistic direction does not. Charette explores reggae ("Elvira Pacifier"), touches on churchy hymns with intentionally ironic titling ("Prayer For An Agnostic") and dabbles in outré modernism ("Mode For Sean Wayland"). His funky side comes out on occasion ("Late Night TV" and "Tambourine") and swing sneaks into the party ("Equal Opportunity"), but no single style reigns supreme on this tasting menu of music.
All four horns distinguish themselves as individuals, but they work even better as a unit. They move through the Baroque-influenced "Fugue For Kathleen Anne" with sensitivity and end up engaging in a raucous game of musical twister atop Rueckert's Tony Williams-meets-Clyde Stubblefield drumming when the music morphs into "Ex Girlfriend Variations." "Tambourine," likewise, benefits from their delightfully dovetailing lines, but they can also be found making magic with simple riffs in various places.
Music For Organ Sextette is an anomaly in the world of organ-centric jazz, but not for the obvious reason. It's a recording that emphasizes the importance of textural exploration, multiple stylistic personalities, groove variations and the balance between group dynamics and solo statements. Charette challenges the status quo with this one and winds up the victor in every way.
Track Listing: Computer God; Fugue for Katheleen Anne/Ex Girlfriend Variations; Risk; The Elvira Pacifier; Equal Opportunity; Prayer For An Agnostic; Late Night TV; French Birds; Mode For Sean Wayland; Tambourine.
Personnel: Brian Charette: organ; Jochen Rueckert: drums; Jay Collins: flute; Mike DiRubbo: alto saxophone; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; John Ellis: bass clarinet.
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