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January/February 2007

Dan Fogel
15 West
Laughing Waters

This album has the flavor of a jam session. Organist Fogel is the main sparkplug, although the other members of his quartet—tenor saxophonist Pete Chavez, guitarist O’Donel Levy and drummer Webb Thomas—are plenty fiery, too. Fogel has a big chordal style and he throws the full weight of his instrument into his comping and soloing. He’s a rhythmic demon at times, introducing all sorts of busy rhythmic surprises in the background.

Many of these performances flow back and forth among the players—an organ head, a guitar bridge, a tenor solo, more organ, more guitar, “fours” with the drums…all very hot, and not always your usual full-chorus solos. Fogel keeps the scene jumping. The tunes include the standards “Just Friends,” “It’s You or No One,” “Out of This World,” “Willow, Weep for Me” and “I Thought About You,” among others. Levy comes on with blitz-like runs at times, fitting notes in place in the nick of time. He can also lay back in the mellow zone. Chavez has a greasy sound; notes slip away and the line reappears up or down the scale, and the held notes expand and contract and rotate sideways. Thomas is all neatness and crispness to Chavez’s slipperiness.

Fogel began playing in clubs in Atlantic City when he was 13. He plays the organ as if it’s an orchestra. Although this album was recorded in the studio (actually, a church), it has the excitement of a live set. A good one.

Originally published in January/February 2007
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