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“Once & Future” B-3 Kings are Spotlighted by Brian Charette on New Posi-Tone Release

mindset2Some guys are just too cool. Hammond B-3 organ master Brian Charette is one of those guys. Not only does he look cool, he knows his B-3 history, wrote a book (101 Hammond B-3 Tips), and for his 10th CD, Once & Future (Posi-Tone Records) he performs 14 tracks of super-cool B-3 funky jazz by a litany of great B-3 composers including himself. With only guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk, Charette has dug down deep to come up with some gems in homage to his heroes — of which there are many.

Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” and Larry Young’s “Tyrone” is a great one-two punch to start. (Yes, Fats played B-3 prior to becoming an ardent stride piano legend.) The “Latin From Manhattan” is an original tribute to the famous organist of The Copa in Rio, Ethel Smith. Somehow, some samba creeps in and it feels good. “Da Bug” is by 1960s New York City organist Freddie Roach.

Etta James owns “At Last” but this spunky instrumental version captures that melody fit to do your own singing along to. “Hot Barbecue” might’ve been written by another great B-3 man, Brother Jack McDuff, but the inherent drama of prog-rock organ icon Keith Emerson, who killed himself this year because his fingers were too crippled to play anymore, is all over this one. Charette not only digs ’70s superstars Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but he has a natural affinity for Deep Purple’s Jon Lord, whom he emulates on a song written by James Brown, “Ain’t It Funky Now.” Using Grant Green’s jazz cover as a template, he resurrects Lord’s sweeping rock vision, coupled with a nod to Tower Of Power who also covered JB’s skin-tight funk. Of course, any organ album has to have a little Jimmy Smith and here it’s “Mellow Mood.”

The closer is Charette’s own “Blues For 96” which he wrote when he lost his rent-stabilized New York City apartment. It is fitting to note that this is the building Led Zeppelin used as the cover shot to Physical Grafitti.

Mike Greenblatt – classicalite

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Dusty Groove appreciates the interplay on “Allied Forces” by Steve Fidyk

mindset2Drummer Steve Fidyk’s the leader here, and his talents really give the album a sharp sort of crackle – but we especially love the record’s interplay between the mighty Hammond talents of Brian Charette, the tenor of Doug Webb, and alto of Joseph Henson! The trio come together without any bassist at the bottom – just Charette’s work on the organ to groove things up – but they also get some great help from guitarist Shawn Purcell, who laces things together nicely over Fidyk’s crackling drums – leaving the two horns and keys to create these magical criss-crossing lines of sound!

Titles include the Fidyk originals “Gaffe”, “Good Turns”, “Food Court Drifter”, “Portrait Of Tamela”, “High Five”, and “One For TJ” – plus a sweet take on the Beach Boys’ “In My Room”.

Dusty Groove

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WBGO reviews the new one by Steve Fidyk “Allied Forces”

mindset2Drummer Steve Fidyk had some of his first rhythm tips from legendary Dave Brubeck drummer  Joe Morello. Fidyk studied hard, practicing non-stop, degrees at Wilkes College and a Masters at University of Maryland, a work ethic that rewarded with tours with the NY Voices and Woody Herman Orchestra. Fidyk’s recordings include those with the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Band, and efforts with Posi-tone label mates saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, and organist Brian Charette, who returns the favor on Steve’s new cd, “Allied Forces”, alongside alto saxophonist Joseph Henson, tenor saxophonist Doug Webb and guitarist Shawn Purcell.

The musical ingenuity found here has a fun time with Monk, Bird, Frank Foster, EVEN Brian Wilson.

The place also gets sweatin’ with Fidyk originals “Good Turns” and “Food Court Drifter”, a tribute to the way Billy Higgins grooved along with trumpeter Lee Morgan. Guitarist Purcell contributes a funkified “Doin’ The Shake”.

Be sure to check out what this allied force does with “Moose The Mooche”, Monk’s “Evidence” and Brian Wilson’s “In My Room”.

Gary Walker – Morning Jazz WBGO

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Something Else shows it’s Gratitude for Tom Tallitsch’s latest release

mindset2Last spring tenor sax ace Tom Tallitsch put forth his seventh album Gratitude, comprising mostly of songs gestated during a particularly reflective time in his life, a roughly yearlong span during which he lost his father and became one himself. Tallitsch has never been known as someone who composed or played without earnest emotion, so the extra motivation put his personal investment this time on another level….  S. Victor Aaron – Something Else Reviews

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The Way Walt Weiskopf Plays It

mindset2One of the musical highlights in a Wisconsin summer full of them is the scheduled appearance of Steely Dan and Steve Winwood at the BMO Harris Pavilion in Milwaukee on July 16th.

The Inquisition suspects that there are many upsides to being Donald Fagen and Walter Becker; one is that after four decades of critical acclaim and multi-platinum albums including Grammy Best Album-winning “Two Against Nature,” the duo is positioned to record and tour with their choice of the best players in the world.

Exhibit A is tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, whose new album, “The Way You Say It,” is receiving outstanding reviews.

Fox Cities jazz aficionados may recall Weiskopf from his outstanding contributions to former Big Band Reunion leader and Lawrence University professor Bob Levy’s breakthrough album, “Crossover,” on Stellar Sound Productions that also included John Harmon, Janet Planet, Tom Washatka, Dane Richeson, Ken Schaphorst and Matt Turner. Weiskopf played on four cuts and contributed his own original composition, “Southwest Blues.”

“Walt is a great player who has been influenced by all the great ones,” Levy said. “It was a real kick playing with him. He’s very easy-going and very giving. There is no ego with Walt. He’s got a lot of confidence but without ego.”

Weiskopf and his tenor sax will take the stage with Steely Dan in Milwaukee. His technical prowess and his team-play mindset have made him an excellent addition to the band for the last 15 years.

“In 2002 I got a call for horn section dates for (Steely Dan’s album) “Everything Must Go” and subsequently was called to play on the title tune,” Weiskopf recalls. “The following January, Walter (Becker) called me and asked me to tour with the band that year and of course I said I would be thrilled to do it. Since the ’03 tour, we’ve toured in ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’13, ’14, and ’15 as well as this year. In 2010 and ’12, I toured with The Dukes of September; a band led by Donald with Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald.”

He was also a key contributor to Fagen’s solo albums, “Morph The Cat,” and “Sunken Condos.”

“I love being a part of a great band and Steely Dan is certainly all of that,” Weiskopf said. “Playing with this band since 2003 has been a great pleasure and continues to be a hugely artistic, gratifying and creative challenge.”

Weiskopf has sixteen albums of his own to his credit; “The Way You Say It” is his third release for Posi-Tone Records, following the critically-acclaimed “Overdrive” (2014) and “Open Road” (2015). Its twelve cuts include nine Weiskopf originals including the title tune. It features organist Brian Charette, Behn Gillece playing vibraphone and drummer Steve Fidyk, all of whom are beneficiaries of Weiskopf’s generosity and respond with inspired playing and solos that are superb complements to his virtuosity and command of his instrument.

The title composition is the closing track on the album. Gillece sets the stage for some of Weiskopf’s most heart-felt and melodic playing augmented by Charette’s understated support. Weiskopf did not have to go very far for inspiration.

“The Way You Say It,” is dedicated to my wife, Marcie,” he said. “She has the most pleasing, inviting, tuneful speaking voice I’ve ever heard and it always reminds that it’s not what you play, it’s how you play it and it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it.”

The album opens with Weiskopf’s “Coffee and Scones,” an up-tempo valentine to “two of my favorite things,” that showcases each musician’s talents in solos that are energetic and melodic, but never forced and fit easily into the groove. The subject matter is not just inspirational but practical.

“I like a dark roast red eye and a blueberry scone – the blueberry gives me the illusion that I am eating healthy – followed by 90 minutes of practicing my horn on a caffeine high.”

Another Weiskopf original “Separation,” follows, and the composer bookends Charette’s precise yet beautifully understated solo with some of his best and most inventive playing.

“For me personally, being on the road apart from the one you love for long periods of time is the most challenging thing about being a musician,” Weiskopf said. “I am so lucky the beautiful woman I married understands my career as a musician.”

On the flip side, Weiskopf’s musical wanderings have taken him to some fabulous places.

“Inntoene, is a tip-of-the-hat to one of the best international jazz festivals anywhere,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back to the beautiful town of Diersbach, Austria, and play with these great musicians.”

The band blends seamlessly at the outset of “Dreamlining,” an examination of “the best kind of dreaming – floating effortlessly and swinging from the clouds – the kind of dream that you wish would last longer than it usually does” before Weiskopf steps out and explores the lower registers of his tenor and Charette eases into yet another ear-pleasing solo.

Weiskopf’s technical mastery is off and running with both speed and precision on “Blues Combination,” inspired by John Coltrane’s “Locomotion.” Intrigued by Ray Charles’s take on the tune, Weiskopf grooves effortlessly on “Candy.”

“I’ve wanted to try this one for years and finally worked up my nerve,” Weiskopf said. “It was nice to have the beauty of Brian’s organ to lean on throughout this one. A quick, down and dirty vision in D minor. ‘Envisioned’ follows. I love hearing Behn bang those bars on the shout chorus. When Charette solos, you can almost see his fingers flying up and down the keyboard.”

Homesickness for the cloudy skies of Syracuse, NY, inspired “Invisible Sun,” which is followed by “Manny Boy.”

“Never would I have believed a year ago that I could feel so much love for a dog,” Weiskopf said. “A year ago, Marcie and I rescued Manny. He has shown me a whole new side of myself.”

Weiskopf et al serve up creative takes on Weather Report’s “Scarlett Woman,” and Charlie Parker’s “Segment,” before concluding with “The Way You Say It.”
“Segment, is the currently the Charlie Parker tune that I am most obsessed with and I hope Bird would’ve have understood my compulsion to modulate up a half-step,” he said. “I love Weather Report and ‘Scarlett Woman’ in particular. It turned out to be a great vehicle for Steve to showcase his grooviness.”

George Halas – SCENE

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Smooth Technique and a love of Melody is “Bright Side” by Doug Webb

mindset2From the very first, sweet strains of tenor saxophone that leap from my CD player, I know it’s Doug Webb. I’ve been listening to his style and enjoying the excitement he creates on stage for three decades. Webb has been featured on over 150 jazz recordings and has added his blues soaked style to tracks used in hundreds of television programs and movies. He’s an on-demand, Southern California, saxophone session man for television and film. This, his seventh album release, is funk-based with Manarelli on trumpet blending well with Webb’s saxophone licks. Webb has penned seven out of the twelve songs on this CD. His composition skills showcase smooth technique and a love of melody. The addition of Charette on organ spices things up and thickens the stew when Webb puts the pots on to boil. This is particularly obvious on cut #3, “The Drive”, where everyone of the musicians seem powered up and propel their improvisational skills at a fast clip. I found Webb’s composition, “Melody for Margie” to be beautiful, promoting a visceral emotion. Another of his compositions I enjoyed immensely is “One For Hank” where Cherry on guitar gers to stretch out, as well as Charette on organ. All in all, this CD swings and Webb is flying above the solid rhythm section, as daring as a man on a trapeze. His music is exciting.

Dee Dee McNeil – musicalmemoirs’s blog

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Midwest Record joins the “Allied Forces” by Steve Fidyk

mindset2Straight ahead swinging jazz powered by  a crew of leaders in their own rights, drummer Fidyk makes no statements here other than he can keep things on track from the back of the stage and that good are meant to be shared by all.  Not the kind of feel good jazz you’d associate with water front bars on summer nights but you have to call it that for lack of a better name, this is smoking stuff that works throughout and is the kind of friendly hard core jazz that brings new listeners into the tent despite themselves.  On the money throughout and totally hot.

Chris Spector – Midwest Record

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“Once & Future” by Brian Charette gets praised by Something Else

mindset2While unboxing guitarist Will Bernard’s delightful latest offering Out & About a few months ago, it was impossible not to rave on the key contributions of his combo’s organist Brian Charette. Charette has regularly put in stellar supporting roles whether it’s for Posi-Tone Records stablemates like Bernard or any jazz leader of note in need of some maximal Hammond B3.

Once & Future (Posi-Tone, June 3, 2016) doesn’t reach for such levels of risk-taking but it does offer the occasion of hearing Charette again trading licks with Bernard, only with the leader/sideman roles reversed. No horns this time as Charette’s group is reduced to the tried-and-true organ/guitar trio (Steve Fidyk brings the drums). As a noted educator of the B3 (he writes instructional books and articles, conducts masterclasses and teaches at workshops), Once & Future can be thought of as a ‘clinic’ record where he touches on many of the various techniques of the jazz organ as well as many shades of sub-styles, from Jimmy Smith to Larry Young. In keeping, only three of these fourteen tunes are his and many of the rest might be familiar to you. They may also titillate with Charette’s manner by which he carries these songs…

S. Victor Aaron – Something Else Reviews

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All About Jazz takes us “Out & About” by Will Bernard

mindset2As if more proof was necessary Out & About confirms guitarist Will Bernard is as skilled a bandleader as he is an instrumentalist. And both roles require an artful approach as this album makes clear: it’s one thing to find talented musicians-as Bernard most certainly does here-it’s quite another to elicit that talent in such a way it complements the talent (and personality) of each of the other musicians involved.

In this context then Out & About is a most ambitious undertaking because Bernard enlists the assistance of three other formidable musicians: drummer Allison Miller, bassist Ben Allison and saxophonist John Ellis, all with their own careers and ensembles of some note and history (and based on that reality alone, some measurable and presumably healthy ego). But the San Francisco Bay Area guitarist also demonstrates the wisdom to preserve his relationship with long-time trio partner, organist Brian Charette, who acts as a combination catalyst and bonding agent unifying this quintet for the sake of the recording.

The five-some lightheartedly dance through “Happy Belated,” illustrating the easy going interactions of which they’re capable, then spend a little less than two minutes illustrating the grace and delicacy they can create on “Not too Fancy.” And, as “Next Guest” attests, it hardly matters who’s soloing here at any give time because, even as Bernard fingers his fret board with such precision here, Allison is almost equally so on bass, never colliding with the guitarist, but acting as a counterpoint as if to highlight the leader’s skill.

The album’s longest track at 6:45, “Habanera” features Charette drawing out the melody line in an altogether luxurious pace, but that doesn’t obscure the motion of Miller at her kit: her playing is so natural, it’s vivid enough to visualize. Meanwhile, Bernard leads by example, he using sufficiently varied tones and attacks to keep himself and all involved alert in a state of positive flux. Accordingly, Ellis twists and turns playing his horn on “Redwood (Business Casual)” where everyone is quick on the uptake of each other’s ideas. The leader unwinds more fluid lines on “Pan Seared,” and the keyboardist instinctively follows suit.

All of which such interplay is especially admirable given the economy of arrangement and production (by Marc Free from one day of recording in Brooklyn) within cuts in the three-to-five minute duration range. But then what better way to illustrate the versatility of a band than for it to move quick through the various changes Bernard presents in this all-original material. His understated vigor in this musicianship on the title song and “Homebody” insinuates the sounds within the listener’ Out & About will not recede into mere background music.

Doug Collette  –  All About Jazz