Deep Blue Organ Trio, Wonderful! (Origin)
At its best, the jazz organ trio is the epitome of hard-driving, soulful swing. The groove is intoxicating. And that’s the case with this Chicago-based outfit, which features guitarist Bobby Broom, B-3 player Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham. On this project, they mine nine gems from the stellar songbook of Stevie Wonder. Their approach is terrific and their take on “My Cheri Amour” is the finest example. They dig into the Wonder classic slowly and deeply for about four minutes, each revealing a lot of melodic nuances in their improvisational exploration, before Foreman ramps it up into a spirited romp for the second half. The gospel-blues-drenched “Jesus Children of Americ” is another gem, If you’re a B-3 fan, or a likely convert, this is one to treasure.
Ralph Peterson's Unity Project, Outer Reaches (Onyx)
Drummer Ralph Peterson’s first recording project since 2004 gives us, for the most part, a sense of what Art Blakey’s band might have sounded like if the Jazz Messengers had included a B-3 rather than a piano. This hard-driving project teams Peterson with B-3 player Pat Bianchi, trumpeter Josh Evans and saxophonist Jovan Alexandre. The session is billed as an homage to organist Larry Young’s classic 1965 Blue Note recording Unity. The stars of the show here for the most part are Peterson and B-3 rising star Pat Bianchi. Highlights include the band’s takes on Shaw’s “Katrina Ballerina,” Young’s “Ritha” and Peterson’s “Beyond My Wildest Dreams,” which is one of the leader’s three originals on this session. The dynamics change radically when freewheeling guitarist Dave Fiuczynski joins for Woody Shaw’s “Zoltan” and John McLaughlin’s “Spectrum.”
Mark Rapp’s Melting Pot, Good Eats (Dinemec)