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Lucid Culture covers Brian Charette “Square One”

Brian Charette - Square One cover


Trying to Keep Up with Organ Individualist Brian Charette

by delarue

Brian Charette is one of the world’s most interesting and distinctive voices on the organ. Classically trained, he’s made his name in jazz although his music is just as informed by classic 60s soul, funk and even reggae. He tours constantly and writes prolifically, and he’s playing the album release for his latest one, Good Tipper; tonight and also tomorrow night, Oct 9 at Smalls at 10 PM; cover is $20 and includes a drink. Joining him for the album show are Yotam Silberstein on guitar and Mark Ferber – who really has a feel for this funky groove stuff – on drums.

The album BEFORE the latest one (yeah – the guy works fast) is a Posi-Tone release, streaming at Spotify, titled Square One. Charette has a devious sense of humor and that’s apparent right from the jaunty strut of the opening track, Aaight!, which eventually squares itself more or less into a swinging shuffle. Charette and Silberstein move more frantically yet purposefully over Ferber’s blistering yet nimble pulse on their take of Joe Henderson’s If, followed by the vintage soul-infused Three for Martina, a metrically tricky ballad with organ and then guitar holding to a warmly reflective mood.

People on Trains follows a wryly lyrical narrative: the subway takes its time pulling out of the station and then scurries along, fueled by the guitar, then the process repeats itself. It isn’t long before Charette throws in a New York-centric subway joke or two (the album cover pictures him chilling down under the Manhattan Bridge). Likewise, True Love kicks off slowly before Charette pulls it out of its balmy reverie, then Silberstein takes it back with a minimalist, practically Satie-esque solo. Then they get a swaying groove going with a warmly purposeful take of the Meters’ classic Ease Back, Silberstein adding droll wah-wah licks.

Time Changes alludes to a famous Dave Brubeck album: it’s a jazz waltz with summery soul riffage. A Fantasy does much the same with trickier rhythms and spiraling solos from guitar and drums against Charette’s anthemic washes. Yei Fei is a blend of indie classical circularity and hints of airily eerie Jehan Alain church organ music: you might not think that something like this would work, but it does. Things You Don’t Mean mixes up a strutting New Orleans funk groove with a hardbop guitar attack and then an absolutely creepy quote and variations from the Alain songbook: it’s killing, Charette at his outside-the-box best. The album sprints to the finish line with Ten Bars for Eddie Harris, the most trad organ-lounge track here – but even that goes off the rails into a deliciously warped interlude. Who is the audience for this? People who like Dr. Lonnie Smith, jambands, funk and soul and sophisticated original jazz tunesmithing, which is ultimately what this is.


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AAJ track review for Brian Charette “Square One”…


Brian Charette: Square One (2014)



Brian Charette: Square One

Track review of “Aaight!” 

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but that can be a double edged sword with respect to self-expression and individuality. Reverence to past influences such as the pioneering organists Larry Young and Jimmy Smith is commonly heard in many contemporary jazz organ players including New York based Brian Charette who breathes originality in 2014’s The Question That Drives Us (SteepleChase) and particularly 2012’s Music for Organ Sextette(SteepleChase). Both feature that iconic Hammond B3 sound within a larger ensemble mashing up a progressive blend of jazz and chamber music influences.

But the trio setting is the standard by which jazz organists are measured and with Square One Charette teams with guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Mark Ferber further proving why he was voted 2nd place in 2013’s Downbeat Critic’s poll for “Rising Star: Organ.” His technical facility of the instrument is immaculate while sporting an impressive tonal range with plenty of pizazz as captured in the opening track “Aaight!”

It’s an infectious piece dedicated to Charette’s fellow sextette member and saxophonistMike DiRubbo who would frequently utter the phrase “Aaight!” (Colloquial term for “All Right”) at the end of a gig on his way home. Charette delivers the funky hook while Ferber and Silberstein add rhythmic hot sauce to the bait resulting in what is effectively an old-school dance joint that will make you wanna get up and shake your groove thang.

It quickly settles into the pocket moving through unison lines then tight solo trades splashed with Silberstein’s Wes Montgomery-like chording and Charette’s skittering fingers working in-tandem with a purposed bass pedal. About midpoint through the piece Charette’s modulation travels from the barstool to the church pew with a gospel church organ sound that’s performed with fluid maneuverability and consummate touch.

Track Listing: Aaight!

Personnel: Brian Charette: organ; Yotam Silberstein: guitar; Mark Ferber: drums.


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Another AAJ review for Brian Charette…

Brian Charette - Square One





Classically trained pianist turned organist Brian Charette is an accomplished master of the Hammond B3 with an elegant yet passionate touch. His signature style imbues the many recordings of his various ensembles with a light, crisp sound and an effervescent melodicism that is, unapologetically, mainstream without being pedestrian. In 2014 Charette cut two charmingly seductive albums that delight and gratify without experimenting with innovation or breaking any radically new ground. 

On his second release of the year Square One on the Los Angeles based Posi-Tone label Charette showcases his virtuosity on his instrument in a sparse, and more traditional, setting accompanied only with guitar and drums. Charette leads his sidemen through nine of his compositions and one each by tenor saxophonistJoe Henderson and vocalist/keyboardist Art Neville.

The Henderson piece, made famous by organist Larry Young on his landmark Unity (Blue Note, 1966), is a showcase for drummer Mark Ferber‘s unfettered, stormy and exhilarating flights of fancy. Charette and guitarist Yotam Silberstein take turns dueting with Ferber and egging him on further.

Silberstein brings his loose, laidback yet simmering strings to center stage on the most eclectic of the CD, the psychedelic “People on Trains.” The intricately constructed motifs give way to Charette’s circular and otherworldly reverberations and his intelligent, impressionistic bars.

The trio builds a vivid shimmering ambience on the fusion-esque “Things You Don’t Mean.” Charette’s thick, expressive harmonies underlie Silberstein’s blistering, electrifying swells as the two take turns elegantly embellishing the melody.

Charette brings a churchy feel to the elegiac “Ten Bars for Eddie Harris.” This hard driving, viscerally moving and tender original accentuates Silberstein’s haunting guitar work and Charette’s own edgy but reserved extemporization. Ferber’s rumbling drums, over Charette’s gospel like chanting keys close the tune on an exalted mood.

Charette’s romantic side is on display on “Three for Martina,” a sweet (but not syrupy) paean to his girlfriend. His suave, sleek spontaneous expression flows with iridescence hues and contrast with Silberstein’s equally heartwarming yet denser strums.

The Question That Drives Us and Square One are intellectually attractive and aurally pleasant musical works. Charette maintains the compelling momentum, on both from start to finish. With his superlative musicianship and leadership skills he assures a uniformly high artistic quality on both disc even in the absence of anything ingeniously cutting edge or trailblazing.

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Midwest Record goes crazy for B3’s on Posi-Tone…

BRIAN CHARETTE/Square One: Been jonesing for some hard hitting jazz organ trio work that swings and doesn’t miss? This is the stuff where you can hear Larry Young as well as Jimmy Smith vibing in the background. Straight ahead but loaded with funk and grease, Charette pulls it together here quite masterfully setting the tone and setting the pace for a set that delivers more than the post office ever claimed to. Simply killer stuff that finds the sweet spot and fills the sweet tooth early and often. Hot stuff.

JARED GOLD/JG 3+ 3: There’s so many leaders on board here that the only reason you can be sure this is a Gold date is that his name is in the biggest type on the cover. Putting three horn players in with his regular trio, it must be an inside joke that he has seven players on this seventh set for the label. (Seven?!, where does the time go?) A perfect example of why you dug jazz organ groups in the first place, this swinging after hours set has it all on the ball and more. Everybody knows what to do and why they’re there to do it, and they do. Hot stuff that really sets some new standards.

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Dusted Magazine goes back to “Square One” with Brian Charette…

Organist Brian Charette gets back to basics on Square One with a return to the standard organ trio format of his first few records, albeit with a twist. Guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Mark Ferber are along for the ride and totally aligned with his relatively straightforward designs for the session.

Eleven tracks comprise a program that would fit comfortably onto the temporal confines of an LP. That calculated brevity works to the trio’s advantage with none of the pieces showing signs of bloat or diffusiveness, although it’s quickly evident that most of them would work well as vehicles for extended jamming in a concert setting.

“Aiight” opens on an oleaginous groove with Charette flipping the flute switch on his console halfway through and going for a stuttering, hollow tone reminiscent of vintage Art Neville. The Meters feel is even more pervasive on a killer cover of “Ease Back” as Charette reclines on a string of signature licks and Silberstein and Ferber furnish a fertile funk rhythm at his flanks. A lively rendering of Joe Henderson’s “If” brings the organist’s affinity for Blue Note-era Larry Young into bold relief as he maps the tune’s slippery modal structure and loose comping from Silberstein segues smoothly into clean single notes for a solo.

“People on Trains” is the first of several pieces to include synth shadings around the edges, with varying degrees of success. “True Love” also proves slightly problematic as it mires in drowsy sentiment, but picks up near the end as Charette changes settings to a swelling church organ sound. Balancing out these near misses are the tracks that constitute the album’s second half, starting with the brisk, bop-inflected “Time Changes.” “A Fantasy” pivots on a steady march cadence by Ferber and swirling chromatics from Charette laced with electronic accents. Organ and guitar trace increasingly constrictive concentric circles culminating in a near-explosive finale.

Funk factors into “Yei Fei,” the sort tempered with strong fusion impulses – particularly in the simmering interludes for solos from Silberstein and Charette. Those inclinations find an even more receptive outlet through “Things You Don’t Mean” as the players dissect another spiraling groove seasoned by colorful, if intrusive, synth washes. “Ten Bars for Eddie Harris” salutes another kindred soul in the named saxophonist and signs the session off with a propulsive period of controlled chaos and a synth-buttressed finish.

Over the past several years, Charette’s surname has become increasingly synonymous with creative activity in a range of settings not common to his instrument, from solo to sextet and in between. While the inclusion of electronics is an acquired taste, this economical date is still an enjoyable reminder that he works with just as much fire in familiar surroundings, particularly when the company is of the quality on hand.


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Nick Bewsey picks “Square One”…


Brian Charette: Square One – Ace organist Brian Charette delivers equal amounts of funk and frolic on Square One, a zip-line ride through mostly post bebop originals in the Jimmy Smith tradition. Charette is a frequent collaborator with saxophonist Mike DiRubbo (reviewed last month) and though he’s a smooth groove pianist in that group, he sure can kick up some dust on the organ. Apart from Charette’s absorbing set list, the measure of the album’s success rests directly on the shoulders of his amazing trio mates, guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Mark Ferber, each of them fixtures on the NY scene. Charette’s pop-inflected strokes at the outset of “Aaight” and spacey sonic effects on “People On Trains” and “Things You Don’t Mean” give these strong tracks an unexpected buzz and root them in present day.

Obsessively soulful, whether swinging through the changes on the Meters tune, “Ease Back” or exploring his own love affair on “Three For Matina,” Charette zig-zags through plenty o’ grooves with superb contrasting harmonics from Silberstein and on target beats by Ferber. Though Square One is his seventh solo record, it’s a highly recommended starting point to discover the diverse and accomplished Brian Charette.


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More Coverage for Brian Charette “Square One”…


Damn tight Hammond work from Brian Charette – a player with a really deft touch on the keys, and able to really showcase his own voice on the instrument, but also dip back into some older soulful modes as well! Most of the tracks here are originals by Charette – although there’s also a great Meters cover too – and his trio has all the right inflections to keep up with his soaring sense of energy – making for a mix of guitar and organ that’s maybe even more balanced than most other organ combos. Charette’s got a clean tone on most numbers – ala Jack McDuff at his mid 60s best – but also can open up with more flourish when needed, depending on the track. Titles include “Ease Back”, “Time Changes”, “Aaaight”, “If”, “Three For Martina”, “People On Trains”, and “Things You Don’t Mean”.


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Music and More goes back to “Square One” with Brian Charette

Widely touring organist Brian Charette is accompanied on this album by Yotam Silberstein on guitar and Mark Ferber on drums. They are grooving hard on “Aaight!” and “If” to begin and then move nicely into blues, bop and ballads always swinging in an alluring and accessible manner. Charette is part of the organ tradition of Jimmy Smith and Larry Young but brings his own conception and sound to the album.

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SomethingElse Reviews Brian Charette “Square One”…

With the exception of John Medeski, there are aren’t a whole lot of Hammond B3 players as imaginative as Brian Charette. And even Medeski didn’t come up with the idea to put his B3 alongside a four-part horn section like Charette did a couple of years back. Charette follows up that the uncommonly exciting Music for Organ Sextette with the much more common organ-guitar-drums getup for Square One (March 18, 2014), his first for the well-regarded Posi-Tone label.

Scaling back his combo doesn’t necessarily equate to scaling back on ambitions, however. Charette is plenty talented enough to have modeled this record after Jimmy McGriff or Jack McDuff and it would have certainly gotten a warm reception from jazzbos. But the former Joni Mitchell and Lou Donaldson sideman just can’t settle for the easy route. That’s why any grease found on Square One is just one of many elements he pours into this record.

“Aaight!” has a groovy funky vibe alternating with swing. Charette plays it tough during the funky parts and his guitar player Yotam Silberstein plays it nice ‘n’ breezy during the swinging parts. Charette integrates harmony into rhythm for “Yei Fei,” with drummer Mark Ferber inserting complex wrinkles into the rhythm, but Ferber makes it seem easy. The quick-paced “Ten Bars for Eddie Harris” sizzles and bristling with highlights, like Silberstein’s fuzzy toned lead lines, Charette’s typical organ burns and the song coming to a standstill for Ferber’s showstopping, spirited drum solo.


Charette picks the sleeper cut “If” from Larry Young’s Unity, featuring tasty licks by Silberstein and Charette making plain that Young is a major influence of his. Charette’s own “Time Changes” is remindful of “If,” full of interesting chord and tempo changes. The one other cover is the early Meters tune “Ease Back,” where Silberstein’s clipped notes and psychedelic sound evoke that vintage Big Easy funk feel without mimicking it.

Though not credited, background synthesizer sounds (from producer Marc Free) can be heard on four of the tracks, an odd juxtaposition with the vintage vibe coming from an organ trio but Charette isn’t afraid to take chances. It works best on “A Fantasy,” a choice slice of stormy rock-soul fusion jazz played in 7/4 time.

Brian Charette goes back to Square One but he doesn’t land on the rote or mundane. This is bound to be one of the more adventurous, eccentric and — ultimately — satisfying organ trio releases of the year.


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Dan Bilawsky reviews several new Posi-Tone Releases for AAJ…

Some labels release a few records a year; some put out a record every month or two; and then there are those, like the Los Angeles-based Posi-Tone Records, that prefer to push even more music through the pipeline.

As 2014 came into being, Posi-Tone began an ambitious release schedule, putting out a new album every few weeks. Those who cover jazz and follow the scene intently can’t seem to turn around these days without bumping into one of their discs. Everything from groove dates to post-bop parties to beyond-the-norm entries fly under the banner of this small-but-thriving label. Here’s a look at four from the ever-growing Posi-Tone pile.

Brian Charette
Square One

Organist Brian Charette has appeared as a sideman on several albums for this imprint, but Square One is his leader debut for Posi-Tone. He works with the tried-and-true organ trio format here and it suits him well.

Guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Mark Ferber join Charette for what starts out solid and turns into a hell of a ride. The first few tracks on this one almost almost seem like a warm-up, as the band finds its footing with funk-to-swing fun (“Aaight!”), pays respect to Larry Young(saxophonist Joe Henderson’s “If”), and pleasantly waltzes on by (“Three Martina”). All of this material comes together well, but sparks don’t always fly. That all changes when the band finds its stride with The Meters’ “Ease Back.” That track, which comes at the midpoint of the album, starts the winning streak. Everything that follows is superb. Ferber’s snare drum groove on “A Fantasy” makes the song, Silberstein pulls out some Lionel Loueke-esque sounds on “Things You Don’t Mean,” and the whole band becomes strikingly unhinged during “Ten Bars For Eddie Harris.”

Charette’s ability to hunker down into a groove, look to the outer limits, or switch between the two at a moment’s notice helps to keep listeners on their toes during this delightful and occasionally daring date.

Jared Gold

Jared Gold, like Charette, has never subscribed to old school organ orthodoxy. He’ll give the past its due, but he works in the present. This is his seventh album in seven years—all released on Posi-Tone—and it finds him fronting an augmented organ trio, with three horns added to the mix. These other voices don’t dominate the program, but they do get to step out on occasion, round out the sound of the group, create some harmonic heft, and add some secondary colors to these pieces.

The album opens on Gold’s slow swinging “Pendulum,” guitarist Dave Stryker’s crackling “Spirits,” and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s gospel-inflected “Sermonette,” complete with some baritone saxophone preaching from Jason W. Marshall. The attention then shifts to the core trio during a take on James Taylor’s “Shower The People” that shifts focus from nuanced texture painting to slick-and-slippery funk. Drummer Sylvia Cuenca steals the show on a burning “No Moon At All,” trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt steps up to the plate on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” and alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius gets to shine on Gold’s lively-and-bouncy “Fantified.” This mostly-covers set finishes with two more, as a smoking “Cubano Chant” and comfortable “Charcoal Blues” finish things off in style.
Steve Fidyk
Heads Up!

Drummer Steve Fidyk is best known for his sideman and studio contributions, writing for Modern Drummer magazine, and work with the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band. Here, he makes his bones with the Posi-Tone gang by fronting a quintet that features a pair of heavy-hitters—trumpeterTerell Stafford and saxophonist Tim Warfield. The program contains four Fidyk originals, two numbers from guitarist Shawn Purcell, and three covers.

Heads Up!, like the aforementioned Charette album, doesn’t start out with the most distinctive music on the disc. It’s the first cover—”Make Someone Happy”—that, strangely enough, gives Fidyk’s music its own identity. A muted Stafford draws focus as Fidyk’s brushes glide along below. From that point on, most everything makes its mark. Purcell’s guitar and Regan Brough’s bass join together for the Charlie Parker-ish “Might This Be-Bop,” which is also bolstered by Fidyk’s brushes, and Stafford picks up his flugelhorn for an uncommonly slow and beautiful take on “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Fidyk’s most notable originals—”The Flip Flopper,” a funky tune with some memorable guitar work from Purcell, and the warm-hearted “T.T.J.”—come later in the album, but it’s Cole Porterthat has the final word; Fidyk and company finish with a metrically-altered “Love For Sale” that’s pure fun.

Tom Tallitsch

Saxophonist Tom Tallitsch focuses on his own music on his second release on Posi-Tone and fifth date as a leader. He throws in David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone” for good measure, but the other nine tracks are all of his making.

Tallitsch proves to be a commanding player throughout Ride, but it’s the sidemen that help to bring out the best in the music. Rock solid players like pianist Art Hirahara and bassistPeter Brendler help to keep things running smoothly, guest trombonist Michael Dease brings the heat, and Rudy Royston, the seemingly ubiquitous super drummer, adds some wattage to Tallitsch’s tunes. Royston’s in high spirits on the title track and he drives the hell out of a few other numbers.

While the faster material always carries excitement with it, Talitsch’s strongest pieces aren’t the burners. “Rain,” which Tallitsch accurately frames as “gospel country,” the Brazilian-tinged “El Luchador,” which gives Dease a chance to shine, and the bluesy “Knuckle Dragger” all leave more of a lasting impression on the ear.

Tracks and Personnel

Square One

Tracks: Aaight!; If; Three For Martina; People On Trains; True Love; Ease Back; Time Changes; A Fantasy; Yei Fei; Things You Don’t Mean; Ten Bars For Eddie Harris.

Personnel: Brian Charette: organ; Yotam Silberstein: guitar; Mark Ferber: drums.


Tracks: Pendulum; Spirits; Sermonette; Shower The People; No Moon At All; I Just Can’t Stop Loving You; Fantified; Cubano Chant; Charcoal Blues.

Personnel: Jared Gold: organ; Dave Stryker: guitar; Sylvia Cuenca: drums; Patrick Cornelius: alto saxophone; Jason Marshall: baritone saxophone; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet.

Heads Up!

Tracks: Untimely; Last Nerve; Make Someone Happy; Might This Be-Bop; I Can See Clearly Now; The Flip Flopper; The Bender; T.T.J.; Love For Sale.

Personnel: Steve Fidyk: drums; Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tim Warfield: tenor saxophone; Shawn Purcell: guitar; Regan Brough: bass.


Tracks: Ride; Life On Mars; Rubbernecker; Rain; The Giving Tree; Ten Years Gone; El Luchador; The Myth; Knuckle Dragger; The Path; Turtle.

Personnel: Tom Tallitsch: tenor saxophone; Michael Dease; trombone; Art Hirahara: piano; Peter Brendler: bass; Rudy Royston.