Like just about every historically great organ trio, these three expert musicians are strongly rooted in funk and jazz: Organ player Larry Goldings
and drummer Bill Stewart
both spent time smoking riffs for saxophonist Maceo Parker
(not at the same time), while no less an authority than Jim Hall
once called Peter Bernstein
the most impressive jazz guitarist he'd ever heard. These shared roots especially grow through this set's "Mr. Meagles," through which Goldings and Bernstein respectively move and groove like Jimmy Smith
and Grant Green
"Sweet and Lovely" is more than a standard lovingly rendered by these six capable handsit's an accurate summation of this entire set. "We have developed a group sound in a completely natural way instead of having a sound that is dominated by the organ," Goldings suggests. "Maybe it's because of the respect we have for one another as musicians with strong personalities."
They respectfully open their Serenade
with Goldings' tribute to drummer Max Roach
. Organ and guitar riffs stroll into and then jump out of this leisurely glide, move to swap brassy chords (which sound like they'd be the horn chart in a larger ensemble) and then open up for increasingly long and complex drum rolls and cymbal splashes that honor this tune's namesake. In another namesake tribute, Goldings' chords wrap up and nestle Bernstein's opening guitar like luxurious bedclothes as it dances through all the beauty and romance of Antonio Carlos Jobim
's ballad for his youngest child, daughter "Luiza."
These three voices sing the title track "Ramshackle Serenade" in a truly singular voice that radiates the warmth of jazz from the American heartland nurtured by Pat Metheny
, Bruce Hornsby
and similar mainstream artists. "We all wanted it as the album's title," Goldings explains. "I think that sometimes we as a band let feelings of dissolution and chaos meet up with strength and beauty. It's fun to take something beautiful and harmonically and rhythmically turn it around so that certain darker shadows mix in. Tension is crucial when you want to make good music."
Stewart builds up "Blue Sway" upon guitar and organ chords that rock it back and forth, its melody and rhythm as perfectly titled as "Sweet and Lovely" and as the serene and floating rendition of Horace Silver
's "Peace" which closes this set.
Roach; Luiza; Simple as That; Ramshackle Serenade; Mr. Meagles; Sweet and Lovely; Blue Sway; Useless Metaphor; Peace.
Larry Goldings: Hammond organ; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Bill Stewart: drums.