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Greg Hatza: Snake Eyes

A Baltimore mainstay since the mid-’60s, Hatza takes an alternative approach to the typical organ trio mix of standards and 12-bar blues by including rootsier, back beat-oriented material akin to that of Booker T. For the latest edition of his group, dubbed the Greg Hatza ORGANization, he calls upon the talents of guitarist Paul Bollenback, tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama, and drummer Dennis Chambers, versatile veterans who are certainly up to the task of covering a lot of ground.

Hatza wrote all of the disc’s material, with the exception of Eric Clapton’s “Change The World,” whose laid-back, funky vibe provides an excellent vehicle for some stinging licks by Bollenback and the leader’s own spacious, soulful approach. As for the original tunes, “Stand Up And Be Counted” is a smoldering, anthemic number with a strong back beat that finds Bollenback in a fusion mood and Hatza grooving hard as he performs the tricky task of maintaining a solid bass line. But the program also features plenty of variety. Taken at a walking swing tempo, the title track allows for some tasty, fluent straight-ahead blowing on the part of Lalama, while “Spanish Rice,” reminiscent of Corea’s “Spain,” rumbas vibrantly and features a cool out-of-tempo organ interlude that sets up the solos. And all concerned show off some serious modal chops on the uptempo workout “Trane Station,” proving that, in the case of this album at least, snake eyes can be a winner.

Originally Published