This trio set from three of New York’s most imaginative left-field musicians – Tim Berne drummer/vibraphonist Ches Smith, pianist Craig Taborn and tone-bending viola player Mat Maneri – displays such an unusual balance of compositional tautness (Smith wrote all the pieces) and spontaneity that assigning it to any jazz, improv or contemporary classical box is impossible. The nine-minute title track is typical, in the explicitness of the opening bell chime, Taborn’s show-and-hide chordal pulse, Maneri’s graceful ascents and a heated finale sprayed with brusque percussion rumbles. Cryptic viola melodies shadowed by rolling piano figures accelerate to frisky dances, stern tom-tom grooves stalk alongside intimate piano-viola dialogues, the fiddle equivalent of Jan Garbarek’s long sax outbreaths curl across dark landscapes before storms break.
The great B3 organ master and conjurer of sound, Doctor Lonnie Smith, has made some great studio recordings, but he'll be the first to tell you that his music needs to be experienced live. The release of his brand new live recording The Healer marks the Doctor's first live recording since his landmark 1970 album Live At Club Mozambique. It showcases the great bandleader reinventing the possibilities of sound along with two young stars - guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamire Williams. The Healer puts the listener front row center at a wild ride of a show that seamlessly blends jazz, fusion, hip hop, world music, and of course the B3 funk that Doc helped create. It also marks the launch of Pilgrimage Records, the good doctor's new completely artist controlled record label.
Covering prime early recordings from 1956-1960 and one mid-'80s cut, Blue Note's The Best of Jimmy Smith offers up a fine introduction to the trailblazing jazz organist. Smith's Blue Note sessions not only introduced the world to the complex solo possibilities of the Hammond B3 organ, but simultaneously ushered in the soul-jazz era of the '60s, spawning a wealth of fine imitators in the process. Before delving into more commercial terrain on Verve in the late '60s, Smith cut a ton of jam-session dates for Blue Note, often with the help of hard bop luminaries like trumpeter Lee Morgan, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, tenor saxophonists Tina Brooks and Stanley Turrentine, and drummers Art Blakey and Donald Bailey. All are heard here on classic cuts like "The Sermon," "Back at the Chicken Shack," and "The Jumpin' Blues," with Smith regular Turrentine and a young Morgan availing themselves in especially fine form. For his part, Smith eats up the scenery on all the sides here, taking his solo to particularly impressive heights on a fleetly swinging rendition of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".