After three releases on Posi-Tone leading small combos from the piano, 31-year-old Israeli native Ehud Asherie switches over to Hammond organ for his latest quartet outing, Organic. Fats Waller and Count Basie come readily to mind as jazz immortals who doubled on the two instruments. While their piano styles were more individualized than Asherie’s at this stage of his career, their doubling is reduced to dabbling when compared to Asherie’s imposing proficiency at the organ, which instantly catapults him to the front ranks of current B3 practitioners and invites comparisons with the greats of the past.
The first Jimmy Smith parallel comes on the opening track, Leonard Bernstein’s “Tonight,” as the leader, guitarist Peter Bernstein and alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky finish attacking the head and Asherie fills the bars before his solo with Smith-like heraldry. None of Asherie’s ideas sound borrowed, unless you object to the Jobim allusions that creep into the organist’s solo and arrangement. With that tip-off, it’s not surprising that a Jobim line, “Favela,” makes it onto the playlist, along with covers of Sonny Rollins’ “The Stopper” and the Johnny Green-Gus Kahn hit “Coquette.” Echoes of “Tonight” can be heard in one of the four Asherie originals, “It’s Impossible.”
Asherie starts off “Favela” so high on the keyboard that the Hammond momentarily sounds like a marimba. Baevsky throws down the gauntlet with scorching work on “The Stopper,” and Asherie responds resoundingly, with additional pyrotechnics from drummer Phil Stewart. Baevsky frequently evokes Bird, but in Asherie’s “Apostrophe,” with the composer playing the “So What” vamp behind him, echoes of Cannonball Adderley sound inevitable. Bernstein’s most gorgeous work is on the midtempo “Valse Pra Jelena,” the catchiest of Asherie’s originals, and he’s at his funkiest on the leader’s lovingly retro closer, “Blues for Fats.”