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Ed Cherry: It’s All Good

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The organ trio, whether led by the organist or the guitarist, is a down-and-dirty working-class format rooted in the blues. You don’t go to organ trios for radical stimulation. You go there for reassurance.

But all valid jazz genres are endlessly renewable. Ed Cherry’s trio is deeply grounded in the classic organ-trio tradition, yet sounds new and alive in the moment. Tasteful, selective organist Pat Bianchi and crisp drummer Byron Landham are solid contributors, and Cherry rules. His clean, incisive guitar lines convey so much conviction they sound burned into the air. He almost always starts simply, with the basics of a song. His sophistication sneaks up on you because his solos, even when he ventures afield, always sound unforced and organic.

There are two dynamics pulling against one another on this record. There is a mellow quality here, as Bianchi’s B3 spreads lushness beneath Cherry’s guitar. But there is also an inner urgency that speeds up all the ballads. Only “In a Sentimental Mood” stays slow, and it unfolds with tantalizing, lingering patience. But “Blue in Green,” normally the most pensive of jazz songs, is firm and forthright. “Maiden Voyage” is proclaimed in Cherry’s hard-as-diamonds notes and Bianchi’s jabbing chords. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” bounces and throbs. Cherry celebrates and decorates the melody but refuses to embrace the song’s pain. As for tunes that are already quick, like “Epistrophy,” an opposite, calming force takes effect. Cherry rivets his notes into place with care and with no sense of hurry.

In addition to gut-level honesty and clarity, there is another reason why It’s All Good works. Its excellent recorded sound puts an organ trio smack in your listening room. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Originally Published