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Kresten Osgood: Plays the Organ for You (April)

A review of the album that represents the Danish drummer's lifelong quest to master the Hammond organ

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Kresten Osgood: Plays the Organ for You (April)
The cover of Plays the Organ for You by Kresten Osgood

Best known as a sideman extraordinaire, Danish drummer Kresten Osgood has shared stages and recording studios with Sam Rivers, Paul Bley, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Steven Bernstein, and dozens more. But he reveals his lifelong quest to master the Hammond organ on Plays the Organ for You, where the grease is deep, the funk is fulsome, and Osgood’s command of the Hammond A-102 keys and attendant vibrations is impressive.

Joined by Fridolin Nordsø, guitar; Ludomir Dietl, drums; and Arto Eriksen, percussion (Nordsø and Eriksen, in an interesting subtheme, are also drummers), Osgood lifts the torch for Jimmy Smith, Charles Kynard, Shirley Scott, Chester Thompson, and Jack McDuff in an album that is both tribute and testament to the Hammond organ’s timeless viability and appeal.

The quartet is ferocious throughout the album’s eight tracks, recorded in spring 2020. Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “Play It Back” opens the proceedings with a churning groove, Osgood pumping the Hammond as a master should, his touch light, his solo percolating. The Afro-Cuban tinge of “Poinciana” put me in mind of the Meters getting skanky at a New Orleans garden party. Osgood’s crystalline touch on the keys is pure 1967 bliss. Rusty Bryant’s “Wildfire” is slow, fat, and funky; “Når Lyset Bryder Frem” recalls the ease of Booker T. & the M.G.’s; the tempo and the tension gets harder on Richard “Groove” Holmes’ “Onsaya Joy.” Osgood closes out with “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” a medium-tempo marvel of soothing melody, saturated organ tones, and the past made new again.

Plays the Organ for You is a terrific album that should reignite the fever for organ bars across the world, or at least bring joy to your personal garden party.

Learn more about Plays the Organ for You at Amazon and Apple Music!

Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef was once a jazz drummer; then he found religion and began writing about jazz rather than performing it. (He continues to air-drum jazz rhythms in front of his hi-fi rig and various NYC bodegas.) His reportage has appeared in Time Out, Modern Drummer, DownBeat, Stereophile, and Electronic Musician. Ken is the administrator of Facebook’s popular Jazz Vinyl Lovers group, and he reviews vintage jazz recordings on YouTube as Ken Micallef Jazz Vinyl Lover.