Having grown up in New Jersey in the sixties and seventies, there was always a slightly seedy lounge or dim lit bar where despite the over whelming smell of stale beer hanging dead in the smoke filled air, a young guy with a slightly altered id could go have a beer and hear the sweet sound of a magnificent Hammond B3 organ playing a mix of jazz, soul and the blues. Often times it was a trio, usually with guitar, drums and of course that Hammond B3 with those whirling Leslie speaker towers that was the real draw.
The format had its masters, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Brother Jack McDuff, Richard "Groove" Holmes and even a lady or two, Shirley Scott and Trudy Pitts to name a few. So perhaps I am a little predisposed to being pleasantly swept back to those days and the fond memories they evoke whenever I hear an good organ trio.By any standards the Deep Blue Organ Trio out of Chicago is certainly a very good organ trio.
Combine the artistry of Stevie Wonder's music with talented musicians who grew up with its pervasive influence, playing it with feeling and true appreciation and you have a joyous musical experience.
The Blue Organ Trio is made up of guitarist Bobby Broom, drummer Greg Rockingham and the organ master Chris Foreman on the Hammond B3. In their able hands, Stevie's instantly recognizable music takes on a cooler, hipper, more soulful sound.
From the opening sounds of Foreman's funky organ on "Tell Me Something Good", you find yourself grooving to the tunes. Broom's supple guitar lines are delightfully bluesy while retaining warm fluidity that is from the Kenny Burrell tradition. The trio saunters through "If You Really Love Me" with Broom taking an exceptionally tasty solo.
It is on "Jesus Children of America" that the trio really cooks, with the ghost of Jimmy Smith sitting in the wings, Foreman knows how to extract the myriad of emotions that can come out of his B3. The trio has wonderful interplay with Broom's deft comping and Rockingham sitting firmly in the pocket throughout. If this one doesn't make you tap your feet check your pulse.
"My Cherie Amour" is played in a slow, romantic way that evokes visions of slow dancing in low lit high school auditoriums back in the days. One of my favorite Wonder songs "Golden Lady" is given a modern treatment with a rolling drum and splashing cymbal line by Rockingham and Broom's smooth octave playing in front of Foreman's sustained, gospel influenced B3 sound. These guys pare down the often highly produced Wonder songs from classic albums like his "Innervisions" to their essential, memorable melodies and in doing so we rediscover their beauty and brilliance.
Foreman gracefully ekes out the soul and groove of his B3 with none of the pyro-techniques that are used by many of the more fusion oriented players on the instrument . You can't help yourself but feeling the groove that this tight trio spin on song's like "You Haven't Got Nothing" and the beautiful rendition of "It Ain't No Use".
The cd ends with a blues drenched "As" and Broom's warm toned guitar on " You've Got It Bad Girl". Tribute albums can sometimes be cheesy, but this is the kind of album that you can leave on your cd player and play over and over. It just doesn't get old listening to this music. The Deep Blue Organ Trio makes " Wonderful", the music of Stevie Wonder just that.