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January/February 2009

Corey Christiansen
Roll With It
Origin Records

Those with a taste for grits and gravy in their musical diet will find a lot to savor on Roll With It. And while this group looks like a typical organ trio with tenor on the side, it packs a tangy flavor due to the solid and inspired musicianship of the participants, most of them living in the general area of the Pacific Northwest. Lead guitarist Corey Christiansen, who has returned to his native Utah after six years as the senior music editor and lead clinician for Mel Bay Publications in St. Louis, has gathered New Yorker Pat Bianchi on organ, fellow Utah resident David Halliday on tenor sax and Seattle’s Matt Jorgensen on drums for this 54-minute CD recorded in Provo, Utah.

To call this quartet tight and intense is a considerable understatement. The music mixes the bluesy goodtime feeling of the usual effort in this vein with a near overload of technique and drive. Christiansen’s facility is in evidence throughout, with particular forcefulness on the title track, as well as the closing “Half Pay.” He shows his tender side on “Kaiya’s Dance” and takes a different path on “Sideways,” where he employs a resonator guitar and some overdubbing in a track that blends country blues with a slight Mahavishnu Orchestra edge. All the tunes were penned by the leader.

Bianchi offers organ prowess in the Joey DeFrancesco region with an individual touch in both support and solo statements, while Jorgensen takes care of the rhythm business. Halliday’s tenor work, which tends to come from the Stanley Turrentine school, is not quite at the same level as his mates here, but he’s also clearly no slouch.

Originally published in January/February 2009
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