Organist Jared Gold, guitarist Dave Stryker, and drummer Billy Hart, augmented by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on three tracks, prove there’s still some life in the venerable B-3 jazz combo. The opening title track sets the tone: Gold is his usual deep-grooved self; Pelt summons a blunt-edged aggressiveness that somewhat belies his well-known Milesian proclivities; Stryker, in full Grant Green mode, is lithe and serpentine; Hart’s solo is rife with imaginative juxtapositions and flavorings. Gold’s “One for John A” is likewise redolent of fatback. Stryker’s “Nomad,” on the other hand, pushes further toward the edge.
The interpretations of standards, though, are the highlights. “It Ain’t Necessarily So” is reimagined as a swinging, soul-inflected romp. “She’s Leaving Home,” arguably Sgt. Pepper’s most bathetic outing, is transformed from a teen-angst soap opera into a surrealistic, nonlinear dreamscape. The wounded wistfulness of “How Long Has This Been Going On” morphs into lilting, bossa-tinged gaiety. “Blues Connotation” brings Ornette Coleman back “inside” (or maybe things have progressed so far since 1961 that Ornette just sounds that way now). Gold and his bandsmen also lend worldly grit to Doris Akers’ “Sweet Sweet Spirit” by seasoning it with a dollop of sweet uptown funk.