Most organ players are interested in the Hammond B3 as a rhythm instrument. They love the way it can power a groove. Jared Gold is different. Perhaps someone forgot to tell him that the B3’s mechanical wheezings and gooey slaverings and grating stridencies do not lend themselves to personal aesthetic expression and nuance. Or perhaps Gold is into degree-of-difficulty. Or perhaps he likes the sound of a B3. On his five previous releases on the Posi-Tone label, he has made the instrument do surprising things. He can holler and bash and get greasy, but he can also trace delicate details.
On his new trio album, two Carole King songs demonstrate Gold’s fresh organ concept. “You’ve Got a Friend” is a resonant moment of 20th-century American cultural history. At first it is intriguing simply to hear it in jazz colors, Gold and guitarist Dave Stryker passing the melody back and forth, subtly transforming it each time. They linger over it lovingly, and their intensifications are so organic and gradual that you don’t notice until “You’ve Got a Friend” is no longer gentle, but a passionate avowal, Gold and Stryker wailing. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” stays in a graceful medium glide, but the organ and guitar solos go deep below the surface of the song.
Like most jazz musicians today, Gold and Stryker want to do their own stuff. Six of the nine tracks are originals. This would have been a stronger album if the ratio had been reversed. Their tunes are rather generic frameworks for improvisation. (Gold’s floating, dreamy “As It Were” is best.) But Gold can actually get alluring sonorities from a B3. Intuition is so tasteful and intelligent it may convert some B3-phobes—including, possibly, your narrator.