Organissimo is a long-standing, hard-swinging organ trio from the Pacific Northwest (Michigan; see comments). This is their first live album after three studio discs; the majority of the material was recorded in a TV studio, except for the last two tracks, which were culled from a club gig. There are no special guests (horn players, vocalists); it’s all organ or synth, guitar and drums from beginning to end. It never sinks into tedium or sameyness, though, always somehow managing to rise above the inherent limitations of the instrumentation and the genre.

I find organ/soul jazz to be all basically the same, like polka or hardcore punk. Playing it in a way that I find not just momentarily pleasurable (because I do like listening to it, sometimes) but memorable is a challenge most groups within the genre—even the revered Medeski, Martin & Wood—have frequently failed to meet. When horn players enter the mix, my ears perk up. I have a Mosaic box anthologizing several Blue Note albums by Big John Patton, and I play it all the time, because the organ and guitar are joined by horns, and it makes all the difference. Organissimo, on this disc anyhow (I haven’t heard the others), are out there on their own, and while the music is enjoyable, occasionally very much so, it blends together. A lot.

Some tracks do stand out, of course. “If Not Now, When?” features not only the organ but a synth making very theremin-like noises. And the album closer, “Pumpkin Pie,” takes an eighteen-minute journey far into prog-rock territory, organist Jim Alfredson abandons Jimmy Smith for Jon Lord. But of the seventy-six minutes of music on this disc, fifty of ’em are taken up with smoothly grooving organ/guitar/drums jazz-funk action. If that’s your thing, you’ll like this a lot. The live audience present certainly did.

Phil Freeman

1. Do I foresee myself listening to this record again? Maybe.

2. Should you buy this record? Yes.

Link to purchase, if you’re so inclined…

One Comment on “31 Days Of Album Reviews: Organissimo

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