Hammond B-3 vet Caesar Frazier and company offer listeners drawn to vintage jazz organ abundant relief with this album, clearly inspired by the keyboardist’s organ-combo influences. Suffice to say, fans of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott, and Don Patterson, to say nothing of guitarists Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, and George Benson, have reason to cheer.
Though Closer to the Truth marks Frazier’s label debut on Savant, his list of credits, including a pivotal association with saxophonist Lou Donaldson, is as impressive as it is long. Unsurprisingly, the 11 performances here are stamped by Frazier’s authority and soulful, none more so than the Benny Golson standard “Blues March,” cast as a hypnotic funk interlude streaming with evocative solos by the bandleader, tenor saxophonist Lyle Link, and guitarist Jacques Lesure. Selecting album highlights is tricky, though, since repeat spins of Nat Adderley’s “Jive Samba,” George Shearing’s “Lullaby of Birdland,” and Frazier’s own “Codes” reveal new virtues and nuances.
While there’s a lot to be said for Frazier’s slow-burn finesse—check out the album’s lovely, brush-stroked coda “That’s All”—the keyboardist also swings with consummate ease, adroitly aided by drummer Leon Joyce, Jr. Uncluttered and unfussy, the arrangements are another big plus: roomy enough to showcase each member of the group without resorting to routine exchanges.