The organ trio construct has been around for so long, that listeners of a certain age would be hard pressed to recall when it was not part of the jazz scene. The challenge always is to try to find something new in the musical telling using this format. The Craig Yaremko Organ Trio does credit to the concept, but it still is following down a well-worn path.
In this debut outing of his organ trio, Yaremko and his band mates tackle a set list that combines some tried and true jazz tunes, but mostly it is original compositions from Yaremko that dominate the session. However with a couple of exceptions, it is the more familiar jazz tunes that offer the most satisfaction musically.
Starting with Matt King’s arrangement of Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” the group shows its versatility and facility as it flits between time signatures and musical styles that range from swing to shuffle to rhumba. With the familiar Thelonious Monk composition “Bye-Ya” which is done in an unfamiliar Latin 7/4 tempo, the group is joined by guitarist Vic Juris who is given plenty of room to show his exploratory awareness. One of Freddie Hubbard’s better known tunes, “Little Sunflower,” shows that organist Matt King has a particular understanding of the tune’s harmonic intentions, all the while Yaremko takes off with a lovely solo on alto flute. As for Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan” it is offered as a languorous ballad with the band staying close to the melody line, although Yaremko’s tenor does show his technique for redolent harmonic shading.
With regard to Yaremko’s own compositional efforts, for the most part, the best that can be said for them is that they are smartly solid structures that allows the band to settle into the musical framework. But that does not mean that they are either memorable or repeatable. However with “Sprung” he may have latched on to a winner. Suffused with a catchy Brazilian rhythm, it is a lively confection that gives Yaremko an opportunity to indulge in his sparkling flute playing. Matt King’s organ also gets into the groove for a solid effort. This a snappy and occasionally sparkly album.