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The Hammond B3 was originally developed to replace pipe organs and luckily for B3 jazz trio lovers it caught on as a less expensive alternative for African- American churches. Its power chords and subtle note caresses, built-in bass pedals and funky sound when combined with a guitarist and drummer eventually spawned the soul jazz genre. From the opening sounds of North Beach Blues it is obvious that Lonnie Gasperini is a B3 player who is heavy on the funk. His big sound meshes exceedingly well with guitarist Masami Ishikawa and drummer Mark Teixeira to make this live gig cook.
Gasperini's roots are in rock and there is a decided rockish edge to some of these tunes, most notably originals like "Can You Hear Me Now?," but he also ably plays the blues, Latin and gospel all the while laying on generous helpings of funky chords and bass lines. His appreciation for the genre is apparent on "The Doctor," a funky piece that pays homage to Gasperini's mentor Dr. Lonnie Smith, and "One for McGriff," a breezily soulful paean to organist Jimmy McGriff. Three of Smith's tunes are also featured here: the Latin funk of "Hola Muneca"; the delightfully greasy burner "Keep Talkin"; and the beautifully bluesy "Mama Wailer."
While Gasperini showcases his instrument's power and versatility, it is his interplay with Ishikawa that is most noteworthy. Ishikawa is a virtuoso guitarist and Gasperini wisely gives him plenty of room. While the B3 trio is a powerful beast it can easily become repetitive but Ishikawa doesn't let these tunes fall into that trap. His clean precise lines, speed and an inventiveness that forces this music into surprising places is what takes this night to the next level. North Beach Blues is evidence that Gasperini's band is a strong addition to the ever-expanding landscape of quality B3 trios.
Track Listing: Hola Muneca; Keep Talkin'; Can You Hear Me Now?; North Beach Blues; I've Never Been in Love Before; Easy For You to Pray; Easy For You to Pray (Reprise); Mama Wailer; You Sure Look Good to Me; The Doctor; If Only For One Night; One For McGriff.
Personnel: Lonnie Gasperini: organ; Masami Ishikawa: guitar; Mark Teixeira: 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.