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Yaya3: Yaya3

Yaya3 is tenor and soprano saxophonist Joshua Redman, organist Sam Yahel and drummer Brain Blade, and the group sounds like an equally yoked threesome rather than a hornman plus rhythm.

The organ is not from the ultrahot Jimmy Smith school: Yahel’s subtlety reminds me of Dynasty, an album Stan Getz recorded at Ronnie Scott’s in 1971 with Eddy Louiss on organ, as there’s some similarity to the late Larry Young. The scarcity of a driving, funky organ sound requires some listener reorientation. The ensemble floats rather than pounds, and its phrasing has a willowy quality. Redman’s lines, although angular at times, wind through the group with fluid ease. Blade is superb at providing rhythmic definition and dynamic counterbalance.

Sometimes the group has a mysterious flavor, owing to ambiguous harmonies and elusive melodies. “Slow Orbit” is like this. “The Scribe,” with Redman on soprano, is hymnlike. “Switchblade” is a fast tune with group accents, and Redman’s tenor spiraling into the altissimo register. Today’s younger tenor players, including Redman, overwork this register and it is reached too glibly. Where’s the soul and the drama?

Like the trio of Jerry Bergonzi, Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum, Yaya3 is on the right track as an alternate to the funky organ trio. This album is an effective declaration of intent.

Originally Published