I play tenor saxophone for two very simple reasons. I can not sing, not a note...And getting a B3 in the back of my car in an unbelievable pain in the ass so I opted for the musical easy way out. One of the great things about jazz perhaps more so than most other genres is word of mouth. Motema recording artist JC Stylles turned me onto Kansas City organ wizard Chris Hazelton and it was the classic undersell.
When you think B3 names like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland come to mind and then you fast forward to Pat Bianchi, Mike LeDonne and Joey DeFransceco.Now we have a musical sponge in Chris Hazelton who seems to have soaked up a little from each player to lay down a swing, a righeous groove that comes from somewhere to deep to even fathom for the average musician much less casual listener. All you really need to know this is a groove you feel with your hips and hear with your feet. Kicking off the with the blues infused "Blues For JP" the party continues straight through to Duke Ellington's "Cottontail" where a soulful elegance seems to emanate from deep within this formidable 4tet that plays with a swing that will touch your soul and set your hair on fire at the same time. Another Hazelton original "Sunday Morning On The Paseo" might dial back the vibrancy of the swing but not the soulfulness of the groove that permeates this tune. A prolific talent behind the organ, Hazelton's compositional skills are most impressive and carried home with a first call band that "gets it" when it comes to swing! Guitarist Danny Embrey and Nick Rowland are excellent soloists all while drummer Kevin Frazee rides the groove from beginning to end.
Organ trios and some slightly larger ensembles seem to be making a retro resurgence and the time is long overdue. A good many players take the easy road out, the have the technical ability of Jimmy Smith but the artistic sensibilities of Bullwinkle the Moose - and it shows. Not so with Chris Hazelton, the future of the modern organ trio setting in all its varieties is in more than capable hands of an artist that is technical proficient but more than artistically gifted.
An incredibly entertaining release from start to finish!
Tracks: Blues For JP; Cottontail; Ladybird; Stop Mr. Ice Cream Man!; Sunday Morning On The Paseo; I Should Care; Grampa's Boogaloo.
Personnel: Chris Hazelton: hammond organ & vocals ( trck 6); Danny Embrey: guitar; Kevin Frazee: drums; Nick Rowland: alto saxophone ( tracks 1-4).