CD Reviews: Organ, Guitar and Drums


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Snap Shot: The Original Trio - Joey DeFrancesco (High Note) - On this new CD, Joey D and his long-time drummer Byron Landham are reunited with guitarist Paul Bollenbeck - the trio toured and recorded together for 13 years until the guitarist went off to his own successful solo career in 2002. 

As in the past, the repertoire is a blend of recognizable standards and smart original pieces.  DeFrancesco, the rightful heir to the Jimmys - Smith and McGriff - can be soulful, bluesy, and plays with great sensitivity and, at times, great abandon. You can hear the latter on smokers such as “Eighty One“ (Miles Davis & Ron Carter tune) and Joey D's “Whichole."  He's also possesses the best “bass feet" on the B-3, really pushing the music forward.  Bollenbeck is the perfect partner - he too can play with great fire or melodic sweetness, long, sinuous lines flowing out of the guitar.  The hero here is Landham. He's quite sensitive to the moves of his trio mates and he can truly drive the proceedings.  Listen to how he lays back on “You Don't Know Me" until the organist starts to dig into his solo then pulls back at the right moment. Landham is the engine that drives “Fly Me To The Moon“ to its impressive heights. On that track, Joey D throws out a quick reference to Dave Brubeck's “Blue Rondo a la Turk" into his solo before Bollenbeck goes on a Brazilian-flavored solo excursion all by himself.  The drums and organ come back and the solo goes into a higher gear.

If you like organ-guitar trios, this is as tasty a morsel as you're likely to find. Great interplay, great solos, and a “smoking" drummer - sounds very good to these ears.   To find out more, go to joeydefrancesco.com.

Hypnotic - Gene Segal - (Innova) - Segal is a Russian-born guitarist raised in Brooklyn, New York.  He's studied with Vic Juris, Gene Bertocini and John Abercrombie and worked with trumpeter Ryan Kisor, drummer Ted Poor and bassist Steve LaSpina (to name but 3.)  His debut CD features a tight trio including organist Sam Barsh and drummer Matt Kane (plus a 3-piece horn section on 2 tracks.)  The guitarist plays in several distinct styles - he can be quite melodic and soulful on ballads such as “Free Fall“ and “Quiet“, he can rip off rapid licks with bluesy bent notes as on “Red Eyes“ and “Truth“ plus he's an active rhythm guitarist.  Barsh, who's worked with the likes of Cassandra Wilson, Jeff Parker, Boyz II Men, Bobby McFerrin, The Brand New Heavies, Robin Eubanks, Debbie Friedman, Branford Marsalis, and many others, adds great depth and his manic yet soulful organ sound to the tunes (dig his “gospel music" solo on “Free Fall“ and the Southern Soul feel of “In The Morning.") His keyboard bass-lines really offer Segal a good bottom.  Kane is an active and funky drummer who's work with a number of Brazilian musicians but regularly crosses over to funk, rock, hip hop and even country music gigs.  Saxophonists Mike Sim (tenor) and Bryan Beninghove (tenor, soprano), along with trumpeter Jonathan Powell, add strong solos and background licks on the “poppin'" “Alef“ and the heavily blues-inflected title tune. Sim's effects-laden tenor solo on the latter tune reminds me of the jazz-funk excursions of the earlier 1970s, such as George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic aggregation.

Despite the fact that the music has a loose, club-gig, feel, most of the songs have well-constructed melodies.  Segal certainly has his own, rather loose-limbed, style and works well with his band, giving Barsh plenty of solo space and Kane the freedom to lay back or “kick hard."  They even channel Tony Williams' Lifetime on the group improvisation “Captain Chaos." “Hypnotic“ is a solid debut from a guitarist/composer who shows great promise - for more information, go to genesegal.com.

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This story appears courtesy of See! Hear! by Richard Kamins.
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