As I type this review, I'm listening to not necessarily All Wrapped Up, the new record by organist Jared Gold, but also Unity by Larry Young. I know, it doesn't make sense, since it's Gold's record being reviewed here, not Young's. But something struck me about All Wrapped Up when I listened to it the last time: Gold's artistic development is going along the same track as Young’s did. Whereas Young started out as a Jimmy Smith wannabe and blossomed into the Coltrane of the B-3 by the time of Unity
, Gold is in a similar fashion moving from the Jack McDuff strains from his time in Dave Stryker’s group
and into the denser but more fascinating world of modal jazz.
When we last left Gold, which, heck, was only last September, he had just put out his third record Out Of Line, a solid date that included his old boss Stryker. This time, though, Gold plays with the same setup Young did for Unity: a trumpet/sax front line alongside his organ and Quincy Davis’ drums (Benny Green, Tom Harrell, Cyrus Chestnut, Regina Carter). And though it isn’t Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw doing the blowing, Ralph Bowen and Jim Rotondi are plenty good enough, thank you very much. Like their counterparts from the 60s, Bowen and Rotondi are seasoned vets who’ve long ago established their own voice and are comfortable in even the most challenging settings. Which is what we now know about Mr. Gold with the introduction of album #4, All Wrapped Up.
I kept going going through each track wondering when I was going to come across a song that was composed “straight,” like a 12 bar blues or something, but Gold wasn’t content to fall back on simple changes and make this a hot blowing session, even though he could have easily done so with the talent at his disposal. That in itself demonstrates a great deal of maturity for this younger player, but through eight originals—six of which are Gold’s—he goes a step further and makes this a more fascinating set, too.
“My Sentiments Exactly” kicks off the proceedings and on the surface it might appear that I’ve got it all backwards, with some red hot solos by Gold, Bowen and Rotondi. But listen closely to the elusive melody underneath and Gold picking his spots carefully in note placement when he’s comping. That’s no greasy soul-jazz, there. Through different tempos and harmonic approaches, the story is pretty much the same for most of the remaining tracks, too, including Davis’ own pearl, the strutting “Piece of Mine.” Davis’ samba stylings rule over “Midnight Snack,” even when he’s not soloing.
After that cut, the formula changes just a smidge. Rotondi’s “Dark Blue” is a slow, nocturnal slow sizzler, and with the lax pace and the wide open spaces, the players are resorting even more to sophisticated colorings and graceful maneuvers; Gold’s masterly mood modulations of his organ here is eminent. “Mama Said” is really an RnB tune and the closest thing to a conventional melody on the record; Gold’s organ’s got a church-minded swagger to it. Rotondi, playing at a high level everywhere, puts in his best solo on this track. Bowen, who also has played flawlessly and free of clichés, leaves behind a glowing trail of soulful notes on his solo in the esoteric ballad “Saudades.”
There are plenty of really good groove organ jazz records being made with regularity. It’s much more difficult to make a really good organ jazz record that’s centered on intelligent interplay, complex compositions and nuanced improvisation. Taking the road less travelled, Jared Gold succeeded in making that kind of record. Consequently, it’s a more satisfying listen in the longer run. When sizing up his last album, I opined that “Out Of Line is a progression from the mighty fine Supersonic; not a huge leap, but a steady expansion of his craft.” This time, Gold took that big leap.
Scheduled for release April 19 by Posi-Tone Records, All Wrapped Up is all that it’s cracked up to be, and then some.