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The Hammond B-3 is Immortalized on Brian Charette’s “Once & Future”

mindset2The realm of the Hammond B3 organ has never been a crowded field and it has remained so even today. However, where once you might have only found records of Larry Young, Jimmy Smith and Joey DeFrancesco in online and bricks and mortar stores, two more names are creating quite the storm in the realm today: one of them is Vanessa Rodrigues, the Toronto-based Brasilian and the American, Brian Charette. The latter once displayed a rather puzzling sobriety when I once heard him, but here, on this outstanding Posi-Tone recording, Once & Future all reservations are swept aside. How memorably he responds to this traditional and contemporary repertoire; to the elusive fragrance and intricacy that can leave your imagination haunted by such a distinctive idiom. And whether you note his special lyrical warmth in his own work or wonder at his unfaltering command of the work of other writers, you will be hard-pressed to find playing of greater authenticity.

Brian Charette and the music on this disc are a wonderful match; he conveys its ferbrile qualities with such naturalness, as is vividly demonstrated from the very get-go – Fats Waller’s ‘Jitterbug Waltz’. What’s striking about this and every other track on this disc how shockingly modern he makes this music sound. Better still, there is no gratuitous virtuosity, no knee-jerk lines, no undue filigree-work; just good old-fashioned swing. So much rhythmic beauty. You might also think that you know how this organ repertoire is to be played; how Jimmy Smith needs to be remembered. Think again: This is hyper-reactive, but always at the service of the music. Never has the emotional world of the Hammond B3 sounded so relatively unadorned. But there’s so much beauty, too. ; ‘Mellow Mood’ is a miracle of colour and nuance. While the sequence of chords towards the end of ‘Dance of the Infidels’ is utterly magical.

The best thing here is probably the non-organ works, the Woody Shaw composition ‘Zoltan’ and Wes Montgomery’s ‘Road Song’, which , delivered by Brian Charette with superbly insouciant virtuosity, has moments of dazzling spectacle and certainly draws the best out of this fine instrument. But then so is the rest of the material, which cushioned in the most beautiful sound puts this wondrous album up there on the map of organ music. This is such thoughtful and thought-provoking playing not only by the organist, but also by what also turns out to be the most perfect partners in crime: Will Bernard on guitar and Steve Fidyk on drums. However, first and foremost this is Brian Charette at his best, which is quite something.

Raul da Gama – JazzdaGama

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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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“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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Downbeat understands the tradition of the Hammond B-3 as well its future with “Once & Future”

mindset2In every jazz lover’s mind there exists the perfect Hammond B-3 organ player. Whether that ultimate B-3 technician is Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland, Larry Young or Shirley Scott, certain defining parameters exist, regardless of the individual player.

But when it comes to Hammond B-3 mastery, Brian Charette wrote the book. Literally. His 101 Hammond B3 Tips (Hal Leonard) covers, among other topics, “funky scales and modes,” “creative chord voicings” and “cool drawbar settings.” Even more proof of his proficiency is heard on Once & Future, where Charette gives a master class in the many styles of B-3 playing, joined by guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk.

Performing covers and original material, Charette’s B-3 touch is decidedly light, buoyant and playful. He brings his style to bear on hardcore grits ‘n’ gravy groovers by the acknowledged masters of the genre, as well as fare that puts me in mind of a cocktail party circa 1963. In that way, Once & Future acts as a calling card of sorts, a sampler of the many styles Charette and trio can bring to your next social function. Thankfully, there’s plenty of steam and smoke to balance the lighter punch bowl offerings.

The album kicks off with Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” delivered in groove-a-licious waltz-time goodness. Bubbly, swinging and steaming are apt descriptions here. The pace continues with Larry Young’s “Tyrone” (from 1965’s Into Somethin’), Bernard and Fidyk ramping up the temperature with able solos and fatback groove.

Charette’s sparkling “Latin From Manhattan” brings to mind Walter Wanderley as easily as it does Donald Fagen’s “Walk Between The Raindrops.” The trio knocks back Freddie Roach’s “Da Bug,” paints a dutiful rendition of “At Last” and stomps hard on Jack McDuff’s “Hot Barbeque.”

Other highlights include a beautiful, if jocular, version of Bud Powell’s “Dance Of The Infidels,” a note-perfect “Zoltan” as it appeared on Young’s 1966 masterpiece, Unity, and a cover of Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song.”

Both B-3 stylist and student, serious jazz scholar and glitzy entertainer, Charette is a burning soloist who understands the tradition of the Hammond B-3 as well its future—just as cerainly as he understands his place in that lineage.

Ken Micallef – Downbeat


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“Once & Future” by Brian Charette gets dusted

mindset2Dusted 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

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New York City Jazz Record checks out “Once & Future” by Brian Charette

mindset2Brian Charette has rapidly become a rising star on the Hammond B3 organ for the past few years and his latest CD is a salute to his fellow players, ranging from greats of the Swing Era to current players. Well accompanied by guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk, Charette is interested in modernizing vintage tunes while putting his stamp on them. Starting with Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz”, Charette swings but the peppy rhythm section gives this jazz favorite a new flavor. His funky take of Larry Young’s blues “Tyrone” downplays John Coltrane’s influence on its composer and turns it into a percolating number for partying. The band engages in shout-outs of the title to Jack McDuff’s engaging funky blues “Hot Barbecue”, though Charette’s keyboard fireworks merit the real attention. Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels” isn’t commonly heard on organ, but this imaginative treatment may open the door for others to conduct further explorations. Charette wraps the session with his hip “Blues For 96”. The future of Hammond B3 is in great hands

New York City Jazz Record


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Midwest Record feels the groove on Brian Charette’s “Once & Future”

mindset2The guy that literally, actually and factually wrote the book about B3 will blow your mind right out of the box on the first track with the way he cascades notes on “Jitterbug Waltz”.  Whether you know anything about B3 or are a long time fan of organ trios, that track is all it’s going to take to make you a believer and join the fun.  A dead, solid killer of a set, this is gold standard after hours jazz that’ll separate the hipsters from the real groove daddys.  Smoking stuff throughout that never wears out it’s welcome.   – Midwest Record

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Raul De Gama dishes out a fine review of “Soul Tree”


Ever the great raconteur Duke Ellington once described (to Stanley Dance) the making of good music as akin to cooking a fine dish, which is to say: you have to add only the finest ingredients, cook to perfection and serve with finesse. There are many fine recordings that would meet this description. This 2016 recording by Ed Cherry – Soul Tree – is most certainly one of them. If one word were to be used to describe in a nutshell what it’s like, that word would certainly be – taking a leaf from Ellington’s book – ‘delicious’. In Cherry’s voluptuous guitar lines, in the mighty growl of Kyle Koehler’s organ and in the fascinating rhythm of Anwar Marshall’s drums, you have the finest ingredients… the rest as they say is history. But, of course, there is much more.

Ed Cherry SoultreeEd Cherry cut his proverbial teeth with Dizzy Gillespie’s mighty United Nations Orchestra. He played in that ensemble from 1978 to 1993 where he refused to be just part of the rhythm section. In fact there is some fine music out there – not on record, unfortunately – where Gillespie shone the spotlight on his young protégée. But Cherry is also something of a musical chameleon. While he played rock-steady jazz and has been around the block with that kind of repertoire, he also pushed the envelope; inhabited the edges, so to speak, with Henry Threadgill and Hamiet Bluiett, to name just two of the New Thing’s superstars. On this recording, Soul Tree Ed Cherry returns to standard repertoire. But old habits die hard and Cherry shows once again that he will not be a standards guitar player.

There’s visceral rhythmic excitement in this performance by the trio. The language of the music is literally lifted off the page when they play. Long-limbed repertoire such as Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes, Freddie Hubbard’s Little Sunflower, John Coltrane’s Central Park West and Horace Silver’s Peace form the spine of this performance. Performances have a wonderful, flexible sense of timing. Cherry floats exquisitely limpid lines in the graceful, contrapuntal Central Park West, for instance, allowing it effortlessly to unfold. The always sensitive Koehler brings his velvety sound to this piece while Marshall is warmly spontaneous, unleashing ardent rhythmic figures to the melody without a fuss. The three musicians together bring a huge range of tonal colour to this chart as well as to the other material on the album.

Cherry and Marshall also share a supple rhythmic flexibility on Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way. The opening is big-boned and generous, with a sense of depth and spaciousness that gives the piece an almost orchestral scale – with generous help from Koehler, of course. Cherry’s own composition Little Girl Big Girl is no less exciting, with all three musicians diving headlong into its development with more than a generous hint of abandon. As a result of all of this the song is powerfully and lovingly delivered. Still, an overall glistening delicacy is added to the power of the instrumental delivery and this remarkable variation of character is what makes this disc so memorable. Delicious? There seems hardly a better word to describe this performance when all is said and done. Ed Cherry, Kyle Koehler and Anwar Marshall have dished out a fine stew indeed.

Track List: Let the Music Take Your Mind; A New Blue; Rachel’s Step; Soul Eyes; Little Sunflower; Central Park West; Little Girl Big Girl; Ode to Angela; In Your Own Sweet Way; Peace.

By Raul da Gama –  Mar 1, 2016

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Dusty Groove reviews Ed Cherry’s new one “Soul Tree”


A killer guitar and Hammond session with a really sublime sort of sound – a groove that’s wonderfully free of cliche – and which has an open, spacious quality that few artists can match! Given the instrumentation, the album’s steeped in tradition, but never tries to just rehash an older Prestige Records vibe – and instead guitarist Ed Cherry and organist Kyle Koehler find a way of soaring out in their own spirits – opening up strongly in a bass-less trio that only features the drums of Anwar Marshall to keep things snapping along. The pairing is perfect – on the level of Grant Green with Larry Young, or Pat Martino with Don Patterson – yet very much with its own spirit, too. Cherry’s arrangements are great, too – providing very fresh takes on familiar tunes, alongside his own compositions. Titles include “Central Park West”, “A New Blue”, “Rachel’s Step”, “Ode To Angela”, “Little Sunflower”, “Little Girl Big Girl”, and “Peace”.

Dusty Groove

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Midwest Record – Ed Cherry will drive you to the “Soul Tree”


The vet guitar man that more than earned his spurs in Dizzy Gillespie’s last stand kicks an organ trio into gear on his latest that explores the past with a big ear open to the future. A real swinging groover of a date, all you need to do is sit back and let Cherry and his crew do all the driving–which they do in a big, bold way. Hot stuff that never let’s you down, this is a solid date from start to finish.