An irrepressibly swinging guitarist who is also given to blues-soaked phrasing, Ed Cherry is in that lineage of classic organ group six-stringers that includes Pat Martino, George Benson, Grant Green and Wes Montgomery. One can even hear strains of Charlie Christian in his soulful solo on a swinging rendition of Kool & The Gang’s “Let The Music Take Your Mind,” which kicks off this winning trio outing featuring underrated organist Kyle Koehler and the wonderfully interactive drummer Anwar Marshall.
The musicians stroll through Jimmy Heath’s “A New Blue” in relaxed fashion, then apply a Latin tinge to Cherry’s buoyant boogaloo, “Rachel’s Step,” both of which showcase Koehler’s brilliant solo contributions.
The Latin flavor returns on an interpretation of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes,” then the trio goes for the all-out burn on an uptempo rendition of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower,” which has Cherry dipping into his Wes bag for some excellent octaves playing.
Highlights abound on this hand-in-glove organ trio outing. Cherry’s breezy “Little Girl Big Girl” has Koehler manipulating tones at the peak of his exhilarating solo in show-stopping fashion, while the guitarist opens his gently swinging rendition of Horace Silver’s gorgeous “Peace” with a beautiful unaccompanied intro before Marshall underscores with brushes and Koehler supplies velvety comping underneath.
Additionally, the trio delivers a whimsical take on John Coltrane’s “Central Park West” and a swinging rendition of Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” that gives everyone a solo and surprisingly morphs into a funky, Meters-inspired throwdown near the end. This Soul Tree yields some very tasty fruit indeed.
4 stars ★ ★ ★ ★
Bill Milkowski – Downbeat Magazine
Dusted In Exile
Organ aficionados dismiss Brian Charette at their own disservice. With a Positone label contract in his pocket he’s stepped up his fecundity over the past year and turned out a string of albums that refuse to cow to critics that consider the instrument gauche or played out. Lesser hands accorded such liberal access to the avenues of album production would likely risk a tapering in quality to keep up. Charette’s kept his success record clean, balancing creative ideational execution with a conspicuous mindfulness aimed at fun.
The catalyst for Once & Future is at once unexpectedly self-referential and more broadly historical. At an earlier session Charette happened upon a copy of his own book 101 Hammond B3 Tips on the studio instrument and consequently started pondering the pantheon of players influential to his development. Fourteen pieces pay homage to these eclectic electric forefathers with three coming from Charette’s own design. Guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk both show themselves game at exploring the guiding conceit of the date to the hilt.
The program starts orthodoxly enough with Fats Waller and the nascent organ inroad “Jitterbug Waltz” lathered here with a heaping helping of swollen, suspirating pedal sustain. Initial predictability gets upended as Charette vaults to the other end of the stylistic organ spectrum with Larry Young’s “Tyrone”, juggling interlocking Latin and funk components while deferring to Bernard for first solo honors. Barely a quarter century separates the two compositions, but each is of seismic importance in measuring the evolution of the instrument’s importance in jazz.
Charette’s “Latin from Manhattan” intentionally matches the formidable kitsch quotient of its title with a syrupy string of fills and a light samba beat. Bernard and Fidyk recline into their roles amiably unperturbed by the lounge-scented surroundings. Freddie Roach’s “Da Bug” works over a rolling call-and-response boogaloo rhythm while Jack McDuff’s “Hot Barbecue”, a Harlem club staple from the Hammond Sixties heyday, gets its well-deserved due with declamatory titular band refrain intact.
Back-to-back burning renditions of Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels” and Woody Shaw’s “Zoltan” signal another course change to more modern fare. Charette flips a switch and hits the angular, staggered theme of the former with a tumescent knife-edged tone that almost eclipses Bernard’s careful comping. The latter tune gives Fidyk the chance to share his press roll and cymbal accent expertise in tandem with the leader’s aggressive to nal swells and spirals. James Brown, Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery comprise the album’s compositional final stretch alongside a few more originals. Charette’s win column remains uncompromised throughout.
Derek Taylor – Dusted In Exile