One of the benefits of paying a outrageous amount for cable television in my area is that the package service comes with a bunch of music channels that you can play through your TV. The jazz station is pretty good, playing a mix of mainstream classics and new releases. A few weeks ago while cooking I heard some really nice old school organ playing, and returned to see it was from a young musician named Pat Bianchi, so I downloaded his new album and was pretty well impressed. He is supported by Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Ralph Peterson or Carmen Intorre on drums and Gilad Hekselman on guitar. The album opens with "Fifth House" featuring fast swinging organ and drums with guitar accents. Hekselman has a strong, clean sounding guitar tone, and builds his solo to an exciting and logical conclusion. The band is most impressive on the up-tempo performances like "Litha" where the horns introduce a fast swinging pace, and Escoffery steps out for a vivid and blue solo. Organ and drums develop a nice rhythmic interplay before Stafford gets to spar with the drums. "Blues Connotation" has a very fast boppish feel, with Peterson taking center stage, pushing and prodding the music ever forward. Horns and strong, swaggering drums are the focus of "Hammer Head," with Stafford's trumpet taking a solid spitfire solo. The mid-tempo title track "Back Home" works well too, featuring a classy and patient tenor saxophone over swirling organ led swing. Placing the two ballads "Portrait of Jenny" and "Just in Time" back to back slows the momentum of the album a little bit, with the musicians sounding cautious and light before coming together to breathe more life at the end of the latter track. Quibbles aside, this was a nicely swinging album of organ jazz. Bianchi has a nice full sound, clearly influenced by the likes of Larry Young and isn't afraid to tackle varied and challenging material. Escoffery and Peterson are excellent as well, playing with a deep seated authority that lends credence to the music. Back Home - amazon.com
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Mats Gustafsson – Lap Dance (iDEAL, 2014) ****
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