Monday, September 19, 2011

JC Stylles - Exhilaration and Other States (Motema, 2011)

On his web site, guitarist JC Stylles fashions himself as “the keeper of the flame of jazz guitar that swings, grooves & just plain makes you feel good.” He actually succeeds quite well in fulfilling that lofty goal, leading a strong organ trio that wouldn’t have sounded out of place during the heyday of Brother Jack McDuff and Grant Green. He is joined by the excellent Hammond B3 organ player Pat Bianchi and the tasteful and unobtrusive drummer Laurence Leathers. The album begins with a fast paced version of “Kucklebean” which I always thought was a Bobby Hutcherson composition, but apparently not. The group moves nicely through the intricate theme, with Bianchi laying down subtle grooves and bass from the pedals. The group functions well as a trio with the musicians working together to form an ensemble sound rather than soloist and support. Moving into grooving territory, they tackle Stevie Wonder’s “I Can’t Help Help It” which adds elements R&B and gospel to their playing. Slowing things down, the band offers some atmospheric ballads, like the standard “I Want to Talk About You” and a lush version of “Don’t Explain.” But they are at their best when exploring a medium or up-tempo groove, navigating their way through Wayne Shorter’s “Pinnochio” or the set ending original “Samba Steps.” Fans of straight-head organ trios will definitely want to give this one a try, it’s unpretentious straight up groove-jazz that aims to please and does so admirably. Exhilaration and Other States -

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