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Brian Charette: Jackpot (Cellar Live)

A review of the organist's quartet album

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Brian Charette: Jackpot (Cellar Live)
The cover of Jackpot by Brian Charette

Save for the occasional bass trombone/viola/hand drum trio, most jazz ensembles face long shadows in presenting their music, and that’s especially true of organ bands. More than six decades of groovin’ soul makes it hard for them to be distinctive. Veteran organ master Brian Charette seems well aware of the dilemma; several of his recordings have steered clear of the shadows while maintaining the groove. Not so much with his latest recording Jackpot; it’s a straight-up, in-the-tradition romp. Somewhere Jack McDuff is smiling. 

Jackpot features a stellar quartet, each well versed in the style—guitarist Ed Cherry, drummer Bill Stewart, and saxophonist Cory Weeds—and the group has a confident, relaxed rapport. There are nine originals here, written by Charette with his early days’ playing in Harlem, sometimes on McDuff’s organ, in mind.

The program opens with “Polka Dot Pinup,” which features a sweet solo by the leader with excellent support from Cherry and Stewart. “Triple Threat” features marvelous solos by Cherry and Weeds. Stewart’s propulsive beats highlight the title track. Overall, the program touches on the key styles of the genre—a little boogaloo here, a bit of shuffle there—but none of it sounds derivative. Charette has worked with George Coleman, a saxophonist who can make a program of standards sound so fresh that they seem brand-new. He accomplishes much the same on his own here, taking a classic style and making it contemporary and exciting without breaking a sweat.

Learn more about Jackpot on Amazon, Apple Music, and Barnes & Noble.

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