There are a handful of certainties in life and they are death, taxes and the groove of JC Stylles!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
JC Stylles is a Big Apple fixture and I mean that in the best possible light. The exponential growth of Stylles since his last release in 2011 should have critics heads snapping in his direction in short order. While the previous release embraced the swing hard or go home sound of the more traditional organ trio, Blakey Grease features an expanded lineup showcasing the incredible depth and range of one of the finest guitarists that New York has to offer.
An artist is only creative as he or she feels however the dare to different presentation of Stylles shows an incredibly harmonic flip side to the foot to the floor swing which could have easily branded Stylles as a one trick pony. What has remained consistent are the clean linear solos, a fluid and methodical zen like attack where no notes are wasted. JC Stylles gets in and gets out without every getting in his own way. The front line is rounded out with alto saxophonist David Lee Jones and tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts. Jones and Roberts offer up a unique dichotomy of sound and counterpoint while Stylles remains firmly grounded in the middle. The rhythm section is completed with the in the pocket finesses of Lawrence Leathers on drums and the strength of Kyle Koehler on Hammond B3. The odd metered minor key blues infusion of the Lee Morgan tune "Yama" takes a ballad to a more soulful place with rising star organ wiz Kyle Kohler. The reharm of the Hank Mobley number "Hipsippy Blues" is a delightfully syncopated romp that is the classic Stylles swing laid down in the more traditional working band type sound. The Claire Fischer tune "Pensativa" an elegant tune with a strong lyrical sense of purpose. Negatives? Nothing to grind on here although it is worth mentioning half the tunes are Wayne Shorter compositions and they are banged out with panache and style!
If you are not hip to JC Stylles, get hip. If you already are then Blakey Grease should make your musical back leg shake...I love it when that happens!
Tracks: Hammerhead; Ping Pong; Yama; United; Hipsippy Blues; Stretching; Pensativa; One By One.
Personnel: JC Stylles: Guitar; Troy Roberts: Tenor Saxophone; David Lee Jones: Alto Saxophone; Kyle Koehler: Hammond B3 Organ; Lawrence Leathers: Drums.