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Organissimo: Alive and Kicking

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Recorded live last year at WKAR-TV’s Studio A at Michigan State before a very supportive crowd, the trio Organissmo’s new disc pays homage to the tradition of bluesy, funky soul jazz without becoming a strict retro or tribute project. Organist Jim Alfredson is quite inventive in his use of the bass pedals, and that skill enables the threesome to sound as rhythmically exciting and dynamic as bands with an electric or acoustic bassist providing additional backdrops and support. He even slyly acknowledges his debt to and distance from jazz’s pioneer Hammond B-3 stylist on the cut “Jimmy Smith goes to Washington,” a tasty workout that also has crisp guitar from Joe Gloss and fine drumming from Randy Marsh. Gloss sometimes shifts role with Alfredson and becomes the primary soloist, but he’s also a master at inserting clever licks, riffs and figures in his accompaniment, or teaming with Marsh to intensify the rhythm ante opposite Alfredson’s teeming chords and furious statements. From the dashing verve of “Stomp Yo’ Feets” and “Clap Yo’ Hands,” to the Latin-tinged feel of “Senor Buffet” and the jam session motif of “Pumpkin Pie,” Organissmo’s playing maintains its fiery pace, yet remains diverse enough to the music fresh and unpredictable. They even include a surprise piece, the percolating cover of Frank Zappa’s “Blessed Relief” from his 1972 album The Grand Wazoo. It is perhaps the freest piece, and Gloss provides some of his best playing. Overall, there’s plenty to savor on Alive & Kicking, and the members of Organissmo have as much fun as the audience.

Originally Published