This Vermont-based organ trio has its vibe rooted deep in 1972. That's probably about the time when these three were born. But they have that bell-bottom shaking, platform-shoe tapping Grant Green groove thing down cold. Their name, which they manage to live up to quite well, may be a pun. But their act is the real thing. They're tight. And it feels real.
Guitarist Eric Krasno tends to dominate the proceedings. But his is a clean, clear sound derived from the soulful single-line strategies of Grant Green and George Benson. He's a sensational soloist who knows how to spice up a riff or expand on a melodic idea. He's even willing to get his fingers dirty exploring such retro gizmos as the wah wah pedal ("Unlce Junior," "So Live!") or Peter Frampton's favorite toy, the vocoder ("Jesus Children").
Matching Krasno wit for wit is organist Neal Evans, once a student of the late Jacky Byard. He jumps out of the Jimmy Smith bag, only hinting that he comes from a place of tougher music, the study of scales and harmonic theory. But he doesn't rest easily in one place too long. He, too, is a dramatic player who builds his ideas like a story. One minute he visits planet Patton, then drifts to yonder Young. When he gets mean, it's Bill Mason grinding like a bull through Rusty Bryant's Wildfire.
Still, these three - guided in no small part by the expert rhythm-ning of drummer Alan Evans - make for one heck of a tight rhythm section. That's why the groove never gets boring. It's no wonder they're such a popular live act. Their tunes are little more than tricky riffs and hardly very memorable. But what they can do to a groove is pure magic.
They also never coast on automatic pilot, like too many funk units do. In the set's opener, "Steppin'," they lay out a tick-tock Rueben Wilson boogaloo for Krasno to jam on, then shift gears most naturally to a slower Grant Green soul groove for Evan's organ explorations. "Doin' Something," starts suggesting Idris Muhammad's "Cold Sweat" before it launches into wilder territories that wouldn't be out of place in On The Corner. Sam Kininger's Maceo-meets-Rusty alto highlights the burning "Rudy's Way" and Allmans bassist Oteil Burbridge offers an appealing Benson-meets-Bullock scat on "So Live!"
Turn It Out 's best moments, though, come on the dark funk of Stevie Wonder's "Jesus Children" and the balls-out jam, "Uncle Junior," a sort of "Ain't It Funky Now" rhythm that lifts off from Neal Evans's Masonic preaching and Krasno's history lesson in soul-jazz guitar, from Green to Benson, Sparks to Ponder and Eric Gale in between.
If you haven't caught the Soulive vibe yet, it'll be hard to avoid during 2000. The trio is being prominently featured on Bump , John Scofield's upcoming follow-up to A Go Go, and has plans to tour extensively outside New York City and Boston (their main haunts). Check 'em out. Find out why things haven't been the same since 1972.
Tracks:Steppin'; Uncle Junior; Azucar; Rudy's Way; Jesus Children; Doin' Something; So Live!; Arruga de Agua; Turn It Out; Arruga.
Players:Alan Evans: drums; Eric Krasno: guitar; Neal Evans: Hammond B-3 organ; Sam Kininger: alto sax on "Rudy's Way;" Oteil Burbridge: bass on "So Live!"
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.