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Frank Catalano: Live at the Green Mill

Led by organist Dan Trudell and featuring former James Brown band drummer Clyde Stubblefield, the B3 Bombers “make it funky” (as the Brown song title says) throughout this live date in Chicago. Even though the performances are long, the band’s control of tension and release lets nothing pale. The vocals and organ and guitar and horn work are rousing, and there’s considerable jazz-solo interest from time to time.

“Make It Funky” and B.B. King’s “Sweet 16” are the only staples on the album. The bulk of the remaining tunes are originals from within the band. “Sweet 16” is an exemplary slow blues take, with alto saxophonist Pat Mallinger entering on a high, held note and getting everything said in a single well-paced solo chorus (with dynamic help from the drummer and the organist).

Trudell’s “It’s All Good” borrows from the mystery theater vibe of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” as does, to a lesser extent, his “Surrey Lane.” Guitarist Mike Standal adds a wailing blues-rock solo to the former and Trudell engages in a stepping bass-note dialogue with Stubblefield’s popping drumbeat on the latter.

Trombonist Joel Adams offers a shouting, rhythmically oriented solo on Trudell’s Brown-influenced “Cumulus Day,” as well as several other strong declarations on the disc. Tenormen Doug Lawrence, who completes the three-horn front line, and Jerry DiMuzio (listed as a guest) contribute a single solo apiece to the album. Rap poet Elo Heem appears on Brian O’Hern’s “Cut-E.”

As an organist, Trudell seems more new school (John Medeski, Larry Goldings, Sam Yahel, et. al.) than old school. This heated session is one about which you can say, “Wish I’d been there.”

Originally Published