Part of the appeal of the traditional organ trioHammond B3 organ, guitar and drumsis the juxtaposition of the guitar's succinct phrasing slicing through the blurry winter breeze of the B3. Another part is the music's straight-up funkiness. This is music of the city, pioneered by organist Jimmy Smith
and guitarists Wes Montgomery
and Grant Green
. The music's heyday ran from the 1950s through the '60s, thriving in urban clubs and bars, incorporating the sounds of R&B and soul music.
A new wave in the format is at hand, with boundary-pushing organists Sam Yahel
and John Medeski
of Medeski Martin & Wood
. Another new face pushing those boundaries, with respect for the tradition, is guitarist Nick Moran.
Moran invites the sound and soul of rock music and blues into the mix with "Strange Brew," the opening tune on seminal power trio Cream's Disraeli Gears
(Polydor, 1967). Moran also opens No Time Like Now
with the song, his snappy lines snaking in and out of organist Brad Whiteley
's cool, sweet wind, backed by Chris Benham
's crisp drum work.
A blind listen to the disc wouldn't identify the leader; the sound is that of a cohesive unit. The Moran-penned "My Beautiful" has a floating quality, with understated, spot-on musicianship, with the leader and Whiteley equitably sharing the solo space and comping duties.
With the exception of "Strange Brew," the tunes are all Moran originals. "Intention" has a measured melancholy; "Slow Drive" is very satisfyingly funky; and "Wishful Thinking" brims with propulsive grooves and showcases Moran's intense yet subtle approach. "No Time Like Now" has a stirring majesty, while "The Physicist Transformed" opens on a slow prowl, with the organ punctuating Moran's phrases.
The organ trio field is a dynamic and crowded one, but the Nick Moran Trio rises up near the top with No Time Like Now
Strange Brew; My Beautiful; Intention; Slow Drive; Wishful Thinking; No Time Like Now; Say Hi to Paris; Natalya; The Physicist Transformed; Renewal.
Nick Moran: guitar; Brad Whiteley: organ; Chris Benham: drums.