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March 2005

Greg Skaff with Joe Farnsworth and Mike LeDonne
Ellington Boulevard
Zoho

Greg Skaff's latest album is called Ellington Boulevard (Zoho), but outside of "Isfahan," Skaff doesn't tackle Duke on the disc. Green Street would be more accurate to the music, as Skaff finds himself with Hammond B3 player Mike Le Donne and drummer Joe Farnsworth for these nine excursions into the bluesy organ trio tradition-though the grooves don't run as deep as an old Grant Green or Jimmy Smith side. That isn't to slight the musicians' playing. The trio bristles with an uncommon collective intensity during tricky Skaff originals like the pulsating 5/4 workout "Highway 54" and the slippery "Giant Steps" shout-out "Super 80," and the band persists with joyous energy through covers of McCoy Tyner's "Inception" and Freddie Hubbard's "Delphia." Turns out the album title references the location of the New York City club Smoke, where the trio regularly performs. If they can capture this kind of energy in the studio, then I'm sure they can produce it before an audience, which means that a night at Smoke when their names are on the marquee would be a night well spent.

Originally published in March 2005
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