Deep Blue Organ Trio's Wonderful! is much more than just another Stevie Wonder tribute. Covering nine songs from Wonder's "classic" period, the members of the trio dissect the music, get to the spirit of it and reconstruct it in their own, unique vision.
Although formed 11 years ago, the three have played together for almost 20 years now. This has generated a camaraderie that is obvious from the start on the interplay of "Tell Me Something Good."
Guitarist Bobby Broom, a veteran of the bands of Charles Earland and Sonny Rollins, provides both rhythmic support and extended, harmonically advanced solos to the interpretation of Wonder's music. His blues drenched sound is heard throughout, for example on the modal arrangement of "My Cherie Amour," where his lines alternate with that of organist Chris Foreman, sounding like a midnight conversation between friends about lovers past and present. In fact this late night feel permeates most of the record, enhanced by Broom's blistering guitar as heard on the funky "You Haven't Done Nothin'" and the laid back "Girl, You Got It Bad."
There is also a lot of poetry on this album, as when Broom's shimmering guitar opens "Golden Lady" and in Foreman's uniquely fresh and soulful organ, that is a bit Jimmy Smith (in its virtuosity), a bit Larry Young (in its angularity). Foreman and Broom have immense musical sympathy and the latter's vaguely Grant Green-like playing is sometimes sandwiched between two hearty slides of Foreman's Hammond B3 as heard on "If You Really Love Me." Greg Rockingham's hard swinging and pulsatile drumming buoy the organ/guitar duets, like on the joyous "Jesus Children of America." Foreman, who started his career in the blues band of Albert Collins, has one foot still in the blues while another in quite advanced improvised music. This perfect balance of his skills is best heard on "As," where bar after bar of fresh and complex ideas make it one of the highlights of this album.
Deep Blue Organ Trio has created a satisfying homage to the best era in the career one of the great modern composers that is true enough to the spirit of the original to delight Stevie Wonder fans, yet with enough complex improvisations to keep jazz purists interested.