The title of drummer Rich Thompson's 2023 release is Who Do You Have To Know?. The answer to that: John Bishop and Matt Jorgensen, the team that runs the Origin and OA2 Records labels that boast prolific and consistently good outputs, featuring an array of well-known and a goodly number of not-so-well-known, but always interesting, often terrific, jazz artists. Thompson has released four albums of his own on Origin, including the first-rate, Triocity: I Believe In You (2016), featuring bassist Jeff Campbell and multiple-reedist Charles Pillow.
What we have with Who Do You Have To Know? is an organ trio outing—groove in the forefront—with a bass onboard, making it a quartet. Adding a string bass to the format is always a good idea; the organ never quite adds the heft and crispness to the bottom end that the bass supplies. The set includes a pair of Thompson originals, three tunes from the pens of the group's guitarist, Corey Christiansen, along with guitarist John Scofield's "Grey and Visceral," and compositions by Sonny Rollins, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Billy Strayhorn and Wes Montgomery.
The phrase that comes to mind on a second or third spin of Who Do You Have To Know? is "perfection of execution." These are well-crafted, precision pieces of music coming together to make a "buffed to a high polish" whole. Artists like pianist Bill Charlap do the same thing. He and his group play perfectly, without sacrificing emotion, soul or a spirit of joy in the effort. Rich Thompson and his quartet are right there with them in this regard.
So if the ensemble dynamic is so good, does any one player stand out? Yes. Guitarist Corey Christiansen always seems to be standing in line for that "Artist Deserving Wider Recognition" award, having released a handful of fine albums on Origin Records, including the excellent Outlaw Tractor (2010) and Roll With It (2008), both top of the line organ jazz outings, like Who Do I Have To Know?.