Cd_vic-juris_span3
03/25/12

Vic Juris
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SteepleChase

The title of this trio date extends an invitation that fans of organ combos shouldn’t pass up. But it also offers a clue as to what rewards await listeners.

The album’s title track, after all, is an Eddie Harris classic that demands a soulful performance, and guitarist Vic Juris, Hammond B3 organist Brian Charette and drummer Anthony Pinciotti respond accordingly, with a slyly elegant slant on funk. When Juris contributes his own “Southside,” a smoker that appears to have been composed precisely for this sort of uncluttered setting, the result is a similarly expressive performance, albeit more swift and syncopated.

Juris’ single-note lines are so fluid that his playing tends to project a sense of lyricism even when the focus is on the trio’s crisp rhythmic attack. Early on, though, he makes the most of an extended opportunity to display his well-documented gift for ballad interpretation, first with a spry, darting take on Harold Arlen’s “My Shining Hour,” then with a spacious recital of Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Only the Lonely.” If Sinatra’s genius didn’t inform the latter performance, then Juris manages to quietly mislead us for several minutes. Also represented is Steve Winwood, via “Empty Pages,” and the trio approaches the tune as if rooted in church-ified funk. Like Juris, Charette and Pinciotti sound entirely at home, relaxed, engaged and resourceful.

Along with the familiar pieces, including Johnny Carisi’s “Israel,” the five tunes composed by Juris allow the trio a chance to explore a colorful variety of moods, grooves and improvised excursions that keep things interesting—and unwaveringly soulful.

Originally published in March 2012
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