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Brian Charette: Square One

Hammond organ master Brian Charette leads a spirited, driving trio on Square One, his relatively straight-ahead and winning debut on the American label Posi-Tone. The Question That Drives Us, on the Danish label SteepleChase, features a Charette sextet of unusual voicings on a more complex and worldly outing. Each CD reflects different facets of Charette, a restless composer, arranger and sonic colorist who leverages the B-3’s musical palette with zest and aplomb.

Not that the music Charette plays on Square One is simple-minded, but it is compact and purposeful, deployed for maximum drama. In fact, it ranges wide and goes deep, from the neo-soul-jazz of “Aaight!” to the melodic, shimmering ballad “True Love” and the sharp, witty “Things You Don’t Mean,” a hypnotically rhythmic track with a sci-fi flair that sets up the free, gnarly finale, “Ten Bars for Eddie Harris.” Sparked by the guitar of Yotam Silberstein, who is as much of a sonic adventurer as Charette, and Mark Ferber, whose knowing drumming spans second-line and electronica-informed rhythms, Square One blends originals with a sharp, boppish take on Joe Henderson’s “If” and a spare, respectful rendition of “Ease Back,” a 1969 Meters tune that never loses its pop and snap. Charette’s band, no matter the format, has fun. While this is serious music-making by instrumentalists who know their way around all kinds of styles, it’s music to be enjoyed and even danced to rather than studied.

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