Nick Hempton Slick (Triple Distilled 2021)

NEW RELEASE – NICK HEMPTON

Cat’s foot iron claw, soul jazz freaks scream for more.

NIck Hempton - Slick

Personnel

Nick Hempton (tenor and alto saxophone), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Kyle Koehler (organ), Fukushi Tainaka (drums)

Recorded

in 2020 at GB’s Juke Joint

Released

as Triple Distilled Records 004in 2021

Track listing

The Runaround
Liar’s Dice
Born To Be Blue
Short Shrift
Upstairs Eddy
People Will Say We’re In Love
Snake Oil
The Gypsy
Fryin’ With Fergus
The Masquerade Is Over


Gene Ammons was recognized as a ‘soul’ player. Figurehead of the development from ‘race’ music to soul jazz, “The Boss” or “Jug” was not an innovator but a people’s champion, king of the chitlin’ circuit of black clubs who synchronized modern jazz and blues. Nick Hempton is a postmodern ‘soul’ player. Born in Sydney, Australia and a New York City stalwart for years, Hempton’s meaty but sophisticated style, inspired not only by Ammons but also by Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine and Sonny Stitt (switching equally fluently between tenor and alto sax) is an instantly recognizable delight. He’s smooth, he’s juicy and his tone wears a three-day stubble beard. Hempton, to paraphrase King Crimson, is a 21st century chitlin’ man.

For a couple of years now, Hempton has led an organ group featuring guitarist Peter Bernstein, organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Fukushi Tainaka, veteran of the Lou Donaldson band. It released Night Owl in 2019, now there’s Slick, recorded on analogue gear at GB’s Juke Joint, one of the reasons why Hempton’s latest outing full of blues-drenched originals and standards is such an enjoyable listen, the musical equivalent of high-class ebony wood. Why so few jazz artists reach back to the warmth – and the force of limitations that comes with it – of vintage engineering is beyond me.

Hempton’s catchy original tunes, based on shuffle, Latin and boogaloo beats, smoke from beginning to end, not least because the saxophonist demonstrates a canny sense of dynamics and tells uplifting stories earmarked by forceful howls, like foghorns in the misty night. Personalities blend like sour, sweet and umami, lusty Hempton with crystalline Bernstein and vibrant Koehler. Bernstein, typically consistent architect of layered passages, plays like an eager young lion. He’s on top of his form. Koehler finds a good balance between grease and bop, his lines swirl around the smoke rings of the juke joint, his comping is subtle and stimulative.

In the borderland of hard bop and soul jazz, these fellows are champions. Hempton’s alto playing is lovely, as People Will Say We’re In Love from Rodgers and Hart (from the musical Oklahoma that also spawned Surrey With The Fringe On Top) convincingly demonstrates, though I prefer the unbeatable tenor/organ combination. It’s been a while since I’ve heard such a warm-blooded interpretation of the blues ballad Born To Be Blue, a long while, and it compares well with the versions of Grant Green and Bobby Timmons.

The band’s most urgent attraction besides shuffle fest Fryin’ With Fergus (catchy titles like Snake Oil, Liar’s Dice and Upstairs Eddy further reflect Hempton’s postmodern chitlin’ aesthetic; note, too, the ‘worn’ black sleeve), no doubt, is Hempton’s uptempo bop tune Short Shrift. Their wheels are on fire and explode. Better watch out for Hempton’s tight-knit NYC organ combo crew.

Nick Hempton

Find Slick here.

Joris Teepe & Don Braden Chemistry (Creative Perspective Music 2021)

NEW RELEASE – JORIS TEEPE & DON BRADEN

Chemical brothers of jazz strike again.

Joris Teepe & Don Braden - Chemistry

Personnel

Joris Teepe (bass), Don Braden (tenor saxophone, flute), Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums), Louis Hayes (drums)

Recorded

on May 1 & August 10, 2018 and 2021 at Creative Perspective Studio

Released

as CPM 3006 in 2020

Track listing

Steepian Faith
One Finger Snap
Steps
Song For My Father
Morning
The Optimist
Dizzy’s Business
Unit 7


The Dutch bassist Joris Teepe and American tenor saxophonist Don Braden have been closely associated since the early 1990’s. Their Trio Of Liberty focuses on piano-less jazz featuring different guest drummers. Their first Trio Of Liberty album, 2017’s Conversations, featured Gene Jackson and Matt Wilson and their latest, Chemistry, proudly presents Jeff “Tain” Watts and Louis Hayes.

Sought-after Teepe, collaborator of Benny Golson and Rashied Ali, educator at the conservatory of Groningen in The Netherlands, has immersed himself in the New York scene since 1991. Quote: “I love American jazz and have practically turned into an American. I have a place in Englewood, a work permit and passport.” 20+ albums with Don Braden, exponent of the American school of jazz musicians that steadfastly, regardless of fashion or hype, prowls the borders of mainstream jazz, speaks volumes about their chemistry, evident again on this set of intriguingly arranged modern standards and original compositions.

Braden tells balanced stories with a beginning, plenty of tension, an end and unwavering tone. Teepe anchors Braden’s urgent lines on ‘veird’ blues songs, the funk-meets-swing of his composition The Optimist and solos strongly throughout. Watts is especially melodic on Hancock’s deconstructed One Finger Snap, which is marked by nifty time changes that subtly put you off your feet without entirely knocking you down. Mildly dizzying and quite enjoyable and remarkable. Rhythmic ping pong games round the table, by all concerned, intensify Braden’s lush Steps, which oozes Coltrane and finds Braden in a fiery mood.

Subtle groove pervades Horace Silver’s Song For Your Father, featuring Louis Hayes, veteran of the epic late 1950’s Silver line-up. His semi-slow shuffle on Unit 7, composition by Sam Jones, Hayes’s former band mate from the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, underlines a relaxed and bluesy flute solo by Braden, heir to forebears as Jerome Richardson and James Spaulding. The hard-swinging Dizzy’s Business completes Hayes’s sprightly contributions, typically shaping the movement of tunes with care and punch. With both Watts and Hayes in tow, you get contrasts and similarities of styles and consequently an extra layer of satisfaction.

The warm embrace of bass and tenor climaxes with Braden’s ballad Morning, a duet of modern jazz arrivés that grow old(er) together in perfect harmony.

Joris Teepe & Don Braden

Find Chemistry on Amazon here.

Source: Jazz Bulletin

Mike LeDonne It’s All Your Fault (Savant 2021)

BEST OF B3 2021! #1 – MIKE LEDONNE

You can feel that he feels the bop organ groove in his bones. Mike LeDonne gives it his all on his latest, It’s All Your Fault.

MIke LeDonne - It's All Your Fault

Personnel

Mike LeDonne (organ), Frank Green, Joe Magnarelli, Jon Faddis & Joshua Bruneau (trumpet), Eric Alexander & Scott Robinson (tenor saxophone), Jim Snidero & Steve Wilson (alto saxophone), Jason Marshall (baritone saxophone), Dion Tucker, Doug Purviance, Mark Patterson & Steve Davis (trombone), John Webber (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)

Recorded

on February 12 & 13, 2020 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as SCD 2183 in 2021

Track listing

It’s All Your Fault
Matador
Rock With You
Still
Party Time
Bags And Brown
Biggest Part Of Me
Blues For Jed


Appropriately, Mike LeDonne, like his heavyweight friends and colleagues, guitarist Peter Bernstein, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and drummer Joe Farnsworth on It’s All Your Fault, is a regular at club Smoke in New York City. LeDonne is a first-class burner. His well-known resumé includes associations with Milt Jackson, Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins. He has maintained extraordinary careers on piano and organ and has released numerous records with his Groover Quartet.

The Groover Quartet is present on his latest outing on Savant, which is dedicated to Lonnie Smith – it’s all ‘his’ fault that he hipped so many musicians to the beauty of Hammond playing. The band is expanded with a big brass and reed ensemble, and LeDonne feels like a fish in the water. He’s plainly on fire and duly stimulated by the punchy and sassy parts of the ensemble members. They’re like masseurs and trainers that have prepared their world-class athlete for his Olympic game. This record, recorded at Rudy van Gelder Studio in New Jersey, oozes the classic organ jazz feeling and it’s over before you know it.

LeDonne masters all aspects of the art of B3 down to the last detail and occasionally even reaches back to the orchestral style of pioneer Wild Bill Davis in a live setting. “Davis bits” tastefully permeate LeDonne’s version of Lionel Ritchie’s ballad Still, but It’s All Your Fault mainly consists of hardcore hard bop. Delicious, hard-swinging stuff. LeDonne performs thrilling versions of Grant Green’s Matador and Lee Morgan’s Party Time. In the flexible tradition of soul jazz, the organist transforms pop into jazz and swings merrily and funky on a shuffle version of Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, a long-time staple of LeDonne’s live sets.

He penned a couple of fine originals. Among them, Bags And Brown (guess who), a catchy tune and arrangement that brings back to life the vibe of the epic Ray Charles Band and its musical director Hank Crawford. Speaking of bands, LeDonne’s band of New York brothers sounds fresh, tight and driven and sparks fly off Alexander and Bernstein’s solo’s. And LeDonne? Well, he plainly remains the unbeatable modern jazz organist.

Mike LeDonne

Find It’s All Your Fault on Amazon here.

Adam Scone Low & Slow (Rondette/Cellar Live 2021)

BEST OF B3 2021! #2 – ADAM SCONE

Surprising adventure of real slow funk jazz turns out remarkably well.

Adam Scone - Low & Slow

Personnel

Adam Scone (organ), Ian Hendrickson-Smith (baritone saxophone), Tom Beckham (vibraphone), Tsutomo Nakai (guitar), Aaron Thurston (drums)

Recorded

on October 29, 2017 at GB’s Juke Joint, Long Island

Released

as RJ-1020 in 2021

Track listing

Psychedelic Eye
I Guess It’s Really Over Now
Shout
You’ve Changed
Low & Slow
Love Me Tender


Adam Scone was at the vanguard of the Hammond revival in the early 1990’s. He was featured in one of the hottest soul and funk jazz outfits around, The Sugarman 3. Ever since, Scone played and recorded prolifically with Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Cobb and the late great singer Naomi Shelton. His cooperation with soul jazz drum pioneer Ben Dixon gives you an idea of his passion for tasteful groove and grease and whom was present at his shows with the extraordinary soul singer hero Lee Fields remembers Scone’s uplifting Hammond sounds vividly.

Scone recorded quite a few albums as a leader. The funny title of I Scream Scone should not go unmentioned. All his records ooze with gritty soul and funk. Low & Slow, recorded on Rondette and distributed by Cellar Live, moves at a considerably slower pace. It’s comforting stuff, like the feeling of chocolate milk and marshmallows settling down in your stomach, like the feeling of relaxing in front of the fireplace, listening to the crackling of wood blocks, staring at the flames, no hurry no worry… The “lazy’ gait makes Scone’s contemporary update of vintage black soul jazz all the more refined and intense.

Low & Slow‘s meshing of baritone saxophone, vibraphone and Hammond organ is strangely attractive, at once contrasting and a unified whole, dense and glowing. Baritone saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith contributes a couple of strong earthy solo’s. Ballads and blues-based tunes follow opener Psychedelic Eye, a nod to the recently deceased Hammond hero Dr. Lonnie Smith, who recorded Psychedelic Pi many moons ago. If anyone is heir to Lonnie Smith, it’s Adam Scone. Scone pulls some rabbits from the hat and nails Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender, a sensitive gospel-drenched cover. Tears For Fears’ Shout is the album’s uptempo tune, a shuffle groove intensified by Scone’s resourceful style and a spicy gem that strengthens Scone’s mesmerizing low and slow Hammond stew.

Adam Scone

Find Low & Slow here.

The Nightcrawlers Do You Know A Good Thing? (Cellar Live 2021)

BEST OF B3 2021! #3 – THE NIGHTCRAWLERS

Oldies but goldies from Canada’s finest soul jazz outfit.

The Nightcrawlers - Do You Know A Good Thing?

 

 

Personnel

Cory Weeds (tenor saxophone), Dave Sikula (guitar), Chris Gestrin (organ), Jessie Cahill (drums), Jack Duncan (congas)

Recorded

on November 8, 2020 at The Armoury Studios, Vancouver, BC

Released

as Cellar Live in 2021

Track listing

1974 Blues
Do You Know A Good Thing When You See One
Devilette
These Foolish Things
Soulful Kiddy
Movin’ Out
New Crawl
Greasy Spoon


If there’s one group and album that fuels the desire to get back into little packed clubs and together with friends and lovers or future lovers enjoy good-time organ combo music, it’s The Nightcrawlers and their latest outing Do You Know A Good Thing?. The quintet of drummer Jesse Cahill, who started this thing with tenor saxophonist and label owner of Cellar Live, Cory Weeds, masters the art of soul jazz exceptionally well. They nail that great warm and resonant sound and style of the classic organ groups of John Patton, Brother Jack McDuff and Lou Donaldson down to the last detail.

Also, the repertoire looks smart at the (prayer) meeting. Its diversity should delight both laymen and soul jazz freaks. The Nightcrawlers get a good groove going with Eddie Harris’s 1974 Blues, make the most of Ben Tucker’s Latin-ish Devilette and swing Donald Byrd’s catchy melody Soulful Kiddy to the ground. Weeds, who has a lovely ‘lazy’ tone (the shuffle groove of the title track would literally have sufficed as bonus track on Harold Vick’s 1963 Blue Note album Steppin’ Out), is especially hot during Don Wilkerson’s catchy Movin’ Out. Not only hip contemporary soul jazz stuff, but also valid as a reminder of the soulfulness of unsung heroes like Don Wilkerson. A lot of that classic stuff featured pioneering soul jazz drummer Ben Dixon, who must’ve been a great influence on Cahill. Guitarist David Sikula’s fuzzy sound meshes well with the group and Sikula’s playing is spicy and balanced throughout.

While New Crawl features drum and conga intermezzos that stoke up the fire on the corner somewhere in the bowels of Spanish Harlem, Hank Marr’s Greasy Spoon, a classic blues line and minor hit in the chitlin’ circuit of black clubs in the 1960’s, features organist Chriss Gestrin, whose punchy and crunchy patterns and sultry sound combine with Cahill’s bossy and nifty playing to make this record such a pleasurable affair. Greasy Spoon is taken at an extra-leisurely tempo, which adds to the enormous groove and grease that The Nightcrawlers cook up. Indeed, it will be very likely to hear someone say to his pal over the music at the end of the bar: “Man, these cats really cook.”

The Nightcrawlers

Find Do You Know A Good Thing? here.

Greg Burrows Tell Your Story (GreBu 2018)

NEW RELEASE – GREG BURROWS

Greg Burrows tells a subtly swinging traditional story.

 

Greg Burrows - Tell Your Story

 

 

Personnel

Dave Childs (piano), Bob DeVos (guitar), Jamie Finegan (trumpet, flügelhorn), John Fumasoli (trombone), Harvie S (bass), Greg Burrows (drums)

Recorded

in 2018 at Trading 8s Studio in Paramus, New Jersey

Released

as GBR 1001 in 2018

Track listing

Waltzing Westward
Everything I Love
Falling
Sixth Sense
Sometime Ago
Blue Print
Hackensack


Picking interesting tunes is a talent that is not to be neglected. There are so many great ones out there besides Body And Soul and Love For Sale. The debut album of drummer Greg Burrows, Tell Your Story, includes a couple of good ones. It stems from 2018 but the 58-year old drummer recharges the battery of promotion while the jazz life picks up full of peaks and throughs.

Burrows, based in the Bronx in New York City and collaborator of pianists Bill Charlap and Kevin Hays, is assisted by fellow NYC cats with reputable pedigrees. Pianist Dave Childs worked with Jimmy Heath, James Moody and Bill Watrous, among others. Veteran bassist Harvie S was an ECM fixture in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Bob DeVos played guitar with many straightforward artists including Fathead Newman, Stanley Turrentine, Greg Osby, Ron McClure and is an organ combo specialist that worked with Charles Earland, Gene Ludwig, Trudy Pitts, Jimmy McGriff, Joey DeFrancesco and Akiko Tsuruga.

These guys don’t engage in exercises on Muscle Beach. Their drive is laid-back, their format unpretentious and they get the maximum result. Take for instance the seldom-played Sometime Ago by Argentinian pianist Sergio Mihanovich, performed many moons ago by Bill Evans, which holds attention by the subtle rhythmic tension between Burrows and Harvey S. and, to boot, is embellished with the tart, lyrical flügelhorn of Jamie Finegan and buttery trombone of John Fumasoli. Then there’s their lovely, lithely swinging rendition on the late great Harold Mabern’s beautiful melody Waltzing Westward. Cole Porter’s Everything I Love is marked by light-footed but earthy and pleasantly quirky piano playing by Childs, who reminds a little, amen to that, of unsung giant Jimmy Rowles.

As covers go, the band takes on the well-known Thelonious Monk composition Hackensack, a feature for Harvie S, who impressively lets off steam. Significantly, Tell Your Story is recorded in close proximity of the legendary Rudy van Gelder studios in Hackensack and Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Burrows throws some good punches in DeVos’s Latin-tinged Sixth Sense, guising as a Carribean percussionist on his alternatively tuned snare and succinctly stimulating soloists. The catchy blues line Blue Print features composer Bob DeVos, who is tasteful throughout on this session and here, full of crystal clear ideas, cool blues phrasing and with a punchy and crystalline tone, outshines himself. Imagine yourself in a little dimly-lit, packed club, relaxing in your seat and enjoying straightforward jazz sounds like those on Tell Your Story, glowing, inviting and meaningful. Very enjoyable night on the town.

Greg Burrows

Find Tell Your Story here.

Check the website of Greg Burrows here.

Boost! Boost! (ZenneZ 2021)

NEW RELEASE – BOOST!

No holds barred on debut album by heavy Hammond and guitar rockers Boost!.

Boost! - Boost!

Personnel

Rob Mostert (organ, keyboards), Jerôme Hol (guitar), Erik Kooger (drums)

Recorded

in 2021

Released

as ZenneZ 2101006in 2021

Track listing

Very Almost Commercial
Lucky Like Lola Leavin’
The Godmother
Maggie’s Theme
Outlaw
One Moment In Time
Own It!
Presence Of Absence


Rob Mostert has been a Hammond organ staple on the (Dutch) scene for years and his 2010 recording at Rudy van Gelder’s studio featuring Houston Person gives you an idea about his straight-ahead style. He was seen on national tv recently, battling with fellow organists on prime time and throwing a bit of Green Onions at them. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone and hooked up with Jerôme Hol, ace guitarist that played with Billy Cobham and Lonnie Smith among others. Their drummer of choice is Erik Kooger, Hol’s colleague from the band of famed Dutch tenor saxophonist Hans Dulfer.

They are Boost! and energetic like three rugby players that hurl themselves into the scrimmage. Lurid riffs mingle with twisted and booming Hammond sounds on funk rock songs like Own It! and Lucky Like Lola Leavin’ and ballads as Presence Of Absence. Psychedelica enters the equation with The Godmother, which features typically virtuosic hard rock skills from Jerôme Hol, talented heir to Adje van den Berg en Eddie van Halen. Impressive, though personally I like him better when he’s playing fewer notes and in a more bluesy vein as in Maggie’s Theme, which also features excellent jazz-tinged statements by Mostert.

Boost!’s themes may not excel in the originality department but no doubt please crowds. Having said that, Outlaw is something else, starting out as a synth-y mood piece that would suffice as the soundtrack to a suspenseful John Carpenter movie scene and developing into booming prog rock. Mostert’s variation of sound is very attractive.

The irony of Very Almost Commercial isn’t lost upon us, as Boost!’s simpatico release aims at FM frequencies but not without healthy doses of top-notch musicianship. Almost whimsy but not quite and there still is some stretch in the band’s recipe.

Boost!

Find CD and vinyl copies of Boost! on ZenneZ Records here.

Check their website here.