Killers of B3

ORGAN JAZZ IN THE 21ST CENTURY – First there was the church. Then there were Wild Bill Davis, Jimmy Smith, Larry Young and many excellent and exciting jazz organists. Since, the Hammond organ has become an invaluable supporter of pop, soul, country, rock and hip-hop music. Now we’ve landed in the 21st century. A brave new world protested against by a variety of accomplished players like Joey DeFrancesco, Larry Goldings and John Medeski, who’ve been loving the grease while enhancing the jazz organ tradition in fresh and energetic ways. Perhaps the roller rink history of the organ is still occasionally scaring of some listeners and musicians. But no doubt, the variety of sonic possibilities of the organ and the distinctive oscillations of its favorite cousin, the Leslie speaker, (don’t we love that sound!) keeps inspiring new generations to have a go and groove! Some of those talented artists and groups are ranked below, as well as a number of longtime creative players who may have escaped your attention. Enjoy!

The White Blinds

That’s a swell band name. It beats The Venetian Blinds. As far as Venice is concerned, we’re very close. Venice, California, that is. The White Blinds hail from Los Angeles and consist of three fixtures of the LA funk and soul scene, drummer Michael Duffy, organist Carey Frank and guitarist Matt Hornbeck. The group locks into a definite pocket, inspired by classic soul and funk jazz of the sixties and seventies. The release of their debut album, Get To Steppin’, is due for release in September on F-Spot Records.

The White Blinds

Check out the website of The White Blinds here.

Listen to their single Get To Steppin’ on YouTube. Remember Charles Earland, Boogaloo Joe Jones and Bernard Purdie?

Blue Note Organ Trio

NNostalgia has a counter-productive inkling and retro can get pretty tedious. But certainly not in the hands of the snappy Blue Note Organ Trio, which provides multi-media evenings of ‘repertoire exclusively from 1952-67 Era Blue Note Records’. Yes, that’s right! Blue Mitchell, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Sonny Clark, etc. The Italian organist Leonardo Corradi and the Greek guitarist Michael Papadopoulos and drummer Sera Bellos are ranked among the finest jazz musicians of their generation in their countries. Take a good listen. These guys have their shit together.

Blue Note Organ Trio

Check out the website of Blue Note Organ Trio here.

Listen to their version of Donald Byrd’s Off To The Races on YouTube. Bit of Art Blakey in there too!

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

From Seattle comes the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. Delvin Lamarr (there are worse endings of names for an organist than Marr) on organ, Jimmy James on guitar and David McGraw on drums. A healthy dose of soul jazz, meaning jazz sensibility with a solid and entertaining backbone of soul and rhythm and blues. The debut album of the group, Close But No Cigar, which was released independently in 2016, has seen wide release by Columine in 2018. Also on vinyl, not only LP but 7inch as well. Paper sleeve and blue/white (!) label, like the vintage jukebox singles.

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Check out the website of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio here.

Listen to their version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up on YouTube. Sweet stuff.

Montis, Goudsmit & Directie

Montis, Goudsmit & Directie bring the house down like few contemporary groups. Frank Montis, (born Van de Berge) otherwise a very soulful singer and songwriter in the pop jazz field, plays organ Jimmy Smith/Jimmy McGriff-style. A funky, blues-drenched cat. The trio also includes Anton Goudsmit, maverick jazz guitarist and composer, and Cyril Directie, versatile and explosive pop, r&b and jazz drummer. On – and off – stage Montis, Goudsmit & Directie may resemble The Marx Brothers high on Benzedrine. Looks deceive, this deeply involved, expert bunch strikes some serious notes.

Montis, Goudsmit & Directie

Check out the website of Montis, Goudsmit & Directie here.

Here’s their take on Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together on YouTube. Subtle but propulsive!

Arno Krijger

Partaking in the adventures of the avant-leaning German trombonist/composer Nils Wogram’s Nostalgia for a number of years now has been a boost to the career and a challenge to the development of the Dutch organist Arno Krijger. His style, influenced by major innovator Larry Young, is tailor-made for daring searches of new land. A refined player with groove roots, Krijger is involved in myriad projects. His involvement with the Belgian saxophonist Toine Thys has been very rewarding. And The Professionalz come to mind, a trio also consisting of drummer Lucas van Merwijk and guitarist Ed Verhoeff, which limits their song playing time to 3 minutes, just like ‘the old days’ of the 78rmp era. Their album, 3 Minute Pieces, was released in 2018 on TamTam.

Arno Krijger

Check out the website of Arno Krijger here.

Listen to the Toine Thys Trio, assisted by guitarist Hervé Samb, play the Afro-Funk-ish Grizzly on YouTube. Four very original gentlemen.

Carlo de Wijs

Aveteran by now, Carlo de Wijs is one of the Hammond organ players in Europe to go to for real jazz and plenty groove. Carlo de Wijs, busy in the popular field as well, made his first album appearance on tenor saxophonist Harry Verbeke’s Mo de Bo in 1985 and never looked back. De Wijs has a striking love for the organ. Besides building analogue/digital B3 hybrids, De Wijs is a teacher of organ jazz at Codarts, Rotterdam – a novelty. By the way, the organist occasionally performs with the above-mentioned Arno Krijger during what is called Hammond Sandwich. A passion dance.

Carlo de Wijs

Check out the website of Carlo de Wijs here.

This is the Z-Shuffle (For Joe Zawinul) on YouTube. An acute and gritty performance.

Simon Oslender

Simon Oslender, born in Aachen, Germany in 1998, is an incredible talent with a bag full of experience at the young age of 20. He played and recorded with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Phil Lassiter, Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw, Wolfgang Haffner and Benjamin Herman, among others. A sought-after player in jazz and jazz-related music, one of Oslender’s favorite projects is Pimpy Pandy, a crossover unit in the vein of Snarky Puppy.

Simon Oslender

Check out the website of Simon Oslender here.

Hear Simon solo during a tour with Philip Lassiter on YouTube. Wild!

Will Blades

“The future” of organ jazz, according to the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith. Will Blades is in high demand, having worked with, among others, Idris Muhammad, Bernard Purdie, Melvin Sparks, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton and Billy Martin. Crunchy and/or eerie sounds from synths are the cherries on top of his fresh playing on the Hammond organ. Blades is not alone in this series as a player who makes excellent use of his heartfelt roots in soul, r&b, blues, funk and rock. Willing to carry organ jazz to the next centuries. Long live the killer B3!

Will Blades

Check out the website of Will Blades here.

Here’s Blades with Billy Martin doing the Little Shimmy. That rocks.

Arno Krijger pic: Photography Dieter Duvelmeyer
Will Blades pic: Photography nikof.photo@gmail.com

Marius Beets This Is Your Captain Speaking (Maxanter 2018)

NEW RELEASE – MARIUS BEETS

The Dutch-American crew of bassist and composer Marius Beets delivers the outstanding This Is Your Captain Speaking.

Marius Beets - This Is Your Captain Speaking

Personnel

Marius Beets (bass), Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone), Joe Cohn (guitar), Peter Beets (piano), Willie Jones III (drums)

Recorded

on February 27 & 28, 2016 at Studio Smederij, Zeist, The Netherlands

Released

as Maxanter 74607 in 2018

Track listing

Dextro Energy
Brother Julian
El Capitano
The One And Only
Emandem
Tafkamp Is Still On The Scene
Carpe Diem
This Is Your Captain Speaking
The End Of The Affair
Moody’s Groove


Hypes come and go and boundaries are being crossed every time a Chinese tourist says cheese. It is easy to overlook that around the world real jazz albums also keep appearing with the regularity of the clock. Also in The Netherlands, which has a solid mainstream jazz scene, a great history of welcoming American musicians and, in the guise of Marius Beets, one of its most prominent bass players. Beets released This Is Your Captain Speaking on his Maxanter label. The album includes tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist (and brother of Marius) Peter Beets, guitarist Joe Cohn and drummer Willie Jones III. They perform ten original compositions by bandleader Marius Beets.

So there’s the cream of the crop delivering high-level improvisation, swing and a healthy dose of blues, inspired by the catchy and challenging tunes of Marius Beets. Eric Alexander is a master of execution who loves to explore the sonic extremes of his instrument. His seemingly effortless integration of these idiosyncracies in his stories, in themselves an ongoing evaluation of the work of Alexander’s heroes like George Coleman and John Coltrane, is striking. He enlivens the boppish The End Of The Affair and the Latin-type line of Dextro Energy with hip twists and lurid fragments of scales. The ending of his remarkably crafty solo during This Is Your Captain Speaking, a clever, blues-based Horace Silver-ish tune, is a bossy bark that must’ve cracked up people in the studio.

62-year old Joe Cohn, the son of saxophonist Al Cohn, who uses a prickly yet full sound, is never short on ideas, which he strings together with staccato notes and supple single lines. He sets fire to Tafkamp Is Still On The Scene, a funky vamp that segues into a driving 4/4 section. The interaction of Marius and his brother Peter, internationally acclaimed pianist, is special, perhaps not surprising considering their life-long association. Emandem especially reveals their subtle interplay of bass lines.

The abundance of hard bop/post bop makes This Is Your Captain Speaking highly enjoyable. The funky ode to Cannonball Adderley, Brother Julian, boogaloo-based Moody’s Groove and The One And Only, an album highlight in the tradition of mid-sixties avant-leaning Blue Note point out the group’s versatile use of the mainstream jazz language. Besides, the group also plays sweet and light – El Capitano, Carpe Diem. The overall sound is, in fact, pleasantly light without becoming lightweight. The crisp and clear sound of the crackerjack drummer Willie Jones III’s ride cymbal underlines that particular canvas. It is a contemporary sound, but also has a foot in the past, the early 70s Muse/Strata-East ‘feel’ in particular. The album is recorded at the studio of Beets, who partakes in myriad musical activities beside bass playing.

You can count on Marius Beets, the bass player. He’s a tasteful, highly skilled accompanist with a tremendous bottom groove. Beets also delivers a number of melodic solos with sustained momentum. Not only did he write an album of superb tunes, he also picked a world-class crew. Not a trace of hesitation by these gentlemen. Dig those solo entrances, time and again! Those are a joy to listen to, as much as the excellent development of their stories.

Check out album info and the website of Marius Beets here.

Frank-ly Speaking

FRANK KOULEN – Porgy In de Polder is the compelling story of Frank Koulen, founder of jazz club Porgy en Bess in Terneuzen, The Netherlands.

Tjeu Strous - Porgy In De Polder

Journalist Tjeu Strous carefully maps out the life of Koulen, who grew up in poor conditions in heady, colonial Surinam, landed in Dutch Flanders in the latter stages of the Second World War, parading into Terneuzen with the Allied Forces. The only brown-skinned man in Terneuzen never looked back, fell in love, married and started lunchroom Porgy en Bess in 1957, which slowly but surely, and with many ups and downs, developed into a center for traditional New Orleans jazz, Dixieland and modern jazz. When one visited Porgy en Bess, one went to the welcoming host ‘The Negro’, renowned for shaking hands with every customer who entered his picturesque public house. It’s a nickname which nowadays would be viewed as unacceptable, instilled rather mixed feelings in the hearts of some of Koulen’s heirs but back then was a fairly innocent and endearing way of embracing the liberating spirit of the exotic entertainment guru.

Porgy In De Polder is a biography underlined by socio-cultural history. It is also, of course, the story of jazz club Porgy en Bess, a haven for the libidinous, restless youngsters in the sixties which brought the swing to the small harbor town of Terneuzen that it until then lacked. In Koulen’s lifetime ‘Porgy’ staged, among others, Jimmy Witherspoon, Cecil Payne, Eddie Boyd, Nathan Davis, Don Byas, Dave Pike, Ted Curson, Booker Ervin, Paul Bley, Chet Baker, Art Blakey and Boy Edgar with Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton and Art Taylor. After Koulen died in 1985 and friends, with the help of investors and the municipal and provincial departments re-built the club from scratch, Porgy en Bess grew in stature and hosted, among others, Arnett Cobb, Lou Donaldson, Phil Woods, Toots Thielemans, Jimmy Cobb, Al Cohn, George Coleman, Ray Brown, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz, Charles McPherson, James Moody, Cedar Walton, Betty Carter, Astrid Gilberto, John Handy, Horace Parlan, Danilo Perez, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride and Ambrose Akinmusire.

Porgy In De Polder by Tjeu Strous is published by Uitgevery Den Boer/De Ruiter. It is available here. Dutch language only.

Pure Goldings

LARRY GOLDINGS/PETER BERNSTEIN/BILL STEWART IN CONCERT – Wear and tear is not in the dictionary of Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart. They continue to pass on sophisticated organ jazz to the next generation.

The organ jazz trio of organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart has been in existence for approximately 30 years. As one is liable to say, the participants in this challenging endeavor have probably been seeing more of each other than their wives at home. Corny joke. And not the kind of crack that pianist, organist and composer Larry Goldings, who functions as a dryly comic master of ceremony, would make. He is one that readily admits having stumbled upon a quasi-funny loose end. Mr. Goldings is more likely seen tapping his fingers along boyishly with the static crackle of the iPhone that resides at the edge of the keyboard of his vintage Hammond B3 organ. His wife, perhaps.

No corny jokes and few loose ends during the trio’s musical conversation at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, ‘the best place for live music in Europe’. A good-humorous side to its hi-level musicianship, nonetheless. These gentlemen have the audience eating out of their hands. Basically, the core of their repertory is an expansion of Larry Young’s music. Larry Young is the last great organ jazz innovator who made his groundbreaking, Coltrane-influenced albums on Blue Note in the mid-sixties with, among others, Grant Green and Elvin Jones. Partly modal, partly vamp, compositions like Bernstein’s Just A Thought and Dragonfly, Stewart’s Don’t Ever Call Me Again and Goldings’ Mixed Message fall into this category. It’s their bread and butter and particularly exciting during the second set, when they have decidedly switched to second gear. Or better said, fourth. In this fast lane, Bernstein picked his composition Giant Coffee, a funkified Take Five, as a canvas for his meanest blues-based licks.

Goldings is a master at coaxing all kinds of sounds out of the organ, more often than not during the course of one of his well-crafted solos, providing layered textures and sustained momentum. Peter Bernstein’s tone, ringing with crystalline clarity, is a marvel and, with the remarkable thoughtfulness we’ve come to associate him with, he picks ideas out of the air like someone devouring myriad M&M’s. In this setting, Bill Stewart is his usual roaring but receptive self. The unannounced solo performance by Goldings, a sweet and sour sermon right out of the church where Aretha Franklin’s dad preached, takes everyone by surprise.

Tincture is on the other side of the spectrum and wouldn’t be out of place on Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch or Tony Williams’ Emergency. Written by Bill Stewart, its shifting tempos and eclectic harmonic movements invite the trio to partake in some moments of pure invention. No chaos, but uncluttered energy. Wouldn’t have hurt to hear more where that came from. Considering the enthusiastic ovation at the end of the evening, the audience not only liked this part but the whole sum that was delivered by this trio of contemporary American masters.

Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart

Place and date: Bimhuis, Amsterdam, May 31, 2018
Line-up: Larry Goldings (Hammond organ), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Bill Stewart (drums)
Website: Larry Goldings.

The Art Of Taylor

ART TAYLOR – I don’t know about you but every time I discover a piece of vintage footage or oral history on YouTube I get all excited, over the moon really, like a kid receiving presents from Santa Claus. I’m sure those fascinated and spellbound by the classic age of jazz have similar feelings.

So here’s Art Taylor in 1994, talking with fellow drummer Warren Smith at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The vivacious, self-proclaimed hardliner looks back on an amazing career and life as an expat in Europe with a lot of flair and humor and points out the value of the democracy of jazz. Taylor boldly tackles taboos as race, prostitution and the American Nightmare. He also demonstrates his style on the drumkit, with special emphasis on the all-important ride cymbal. A priceless piece of oral history that should be viewed as a platform for discussion at conservatories around the world.

Watch the interview here.

Taylor, born in 1929 in New York City, was probably the most prolific drummer in modern jazz history (“I NEVER was late!”) who played with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan and countless others. A legend, who also published the controversial book of interviews Notes And Tones in 1977. Below are some of the albums that featured Taylor.

Art Taylor passed away within a year after the interview, on February 6, 1995.

Serious Fun

PETER GUIDI – Flutist, saxophonist, teacher and bandleader Peter Guidi sadly passed away on April 17. Besides being a regular performer on the European circuit, Guidi has been a driving force in the Dutch landscape as head of the jazz department of the Amsterdamse Muziekschool and bandleader of numerous prizewinning youth orchestras such as Jazzmania Big Band. Many of the children that Guidi teached have gone on to become accomplished professional musicians. And, lest we forget, young talents that have opted for a civilian career instead of jazz music have experienced unforgettable life lessons from the passionate, firm but fair Scottish-Italian resident of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Strikingly, ex-pupils always speak with a lot of admiration and fondness of their former mentor.

I met with Peter for our interview last June. Guidi was a connoisseur of jazz history and a zealous fan of hard bop, which for him was a fundamental force in jazz: accessible, bluesy but clever, the one genre that possesses the capacity to capture audiences, lure beginners into the jazz realm and satisfy talented young lions. Guidi was enthusiastic, generous, energetic and only deafening church bells would’ve been able to stop the flow of uplifting jazz talk. Guidi’s motto was: jazz, like life, is fun, but serious fun. I enclosed the interview here.

The Dutch National Jazz Archive interviewed Peter Guidi for its lovely, enlightening series of interviews Jazzhelden. Dutch language speakers only. See here.

Last week it was communicated that Guidi was seriously ill. The following day, a large group of students and ex-students performed in front of Guidi’s apartment in Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighborhood. See the reportage of the touching event on AT5 here.

Peter Guidi was 68 years old.

Bass To Infinity

BUSTER WILLIAMS – MOVIE

Film maker Adam Kahan is in the process of finishing a documentary about bass player Buster Williams, Bass To Infinity. Kahan, who is also making a praiseworthy effort of wrapping up movies about pianist Junior Mance and multi reed man Rahsaan Roland Kirk, has set up a funding project on Kickstarter and is about to cross the finish line with his Buster Williams docu.

Williams, born April 17, 1942 in Camden, New Jersey, is at home in both mainstream and avant-leaning surroundings. One of the most sought-after modern jazz bassists, Williams started out with Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt in 1961 and since has cooperated with Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Woody Shaw, McCoy Tyner, Geri Allen, Steve Turre and many, many others. He was the bass player of choice for The Jazz Crusaders, recorded extensively with Larry Coryell and was part of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking Mwandishi group. Williams stayed with the pianist from 1969 to 1977. The Penguin Guide says of Williams’ style: “Buster Williams’ harmony is impeccable and he has a rhythmic sense that is unfailing, feeling and utterly original.” Williams has been recording steadily as a leader ever since his 1975 Muse album Pinnacle.

Inevitably, considering the bassist’s vast discography, Buster Williams’ expert, dark-toned contributions to modern jazz have found their way to the pages of Flophouse Magazine. See the reviewed albums below.

Check the website of Buster Williams here.