How is it that a record can sound so pleasant but at the same time disappoint? That is the case with Iron City's Put the Flavor On It.
Iron City is an organ trio led by guitarist Charlie Apicella and presumably named after the legendary album by Grant Green, Big John Patton and Ben Dixon. Although this may bring to mind the guitar/organ/drum trios led by Green himself, Jimmy Smith, and other hard bop giants, the music Put the Flavor On It is extremely tame by comparison. Both the leader's original compositions and standards covered are primarily based on short, funk/soul-inflected and catchy tunes that are very pleasant and often "toe-tapping" good, but there is little additional substance.
The solos are generally short and tend to stick close to the pieces' themes without venturing deeply into improvised territory. On "Hey, Western Union Man" and "24 For Elvin," the guitar and organ solos meander a bit longer but still remain within safe distance. The original compositions are not very creative and sound a bit alike, so that even repeated listens reveal little difference. The ensemble playing is quite good, however, and the trio seems to have a rapport that helps it lay down strong grooves throughout. It's a testament to this high level of musicianship that, unfortunately, is not well represented elsewhere on the record. The result is a shell that remains empty because of the lack of improvisational creativity and variation among the different pieces.
Overall this is a pleasant, fun, but ultimately not a very memorable aspiration to the organ/guitar trios of yore that, unfortunately, misses the mark.
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