(33 Records. 33JAZZ241. CD Review by Jeanie Barton)
There seems to be a revival of “cool” occurring with the sexy, sixties style combo of guitar, organ and drums - only last night I attended a gig featuring this ensemble at Beeston Jazz Club in Nottingham with the marvellous Pat Sprakes on guitar - I now, happily, have two beatnik, bluesy, bebop bands with the same line up to review in a row; The Matt Chandler Group and Nigel Price’s Organ Trio .
Nigel, a Ronnie’s regular struts his strings with Pete Whittaker on Hammond organ and Matt Home on drums plus their good friend Vasilis Xenopoulos guesting for the final track on tenor sax. They have recorded a clutch of numbers they toured together in 2012 and have the obvious fluidity of a well-oiled live act, switching between grooves and tempos mid-number and sounding relaxed no matter how many bpm. The title track Hit the Road, opens the show and nods towards Nigel’s personal hero, Wes Montgomery’s “Jingles” as well as Clifford Brown’s “Daahoud”. It’s slick, quick introduction of tight stops sets the stage for several swinging choruses. The trio well and truly establish their groove.
Lover Man as a samba is performed as a tribute to Dick Morrisey who apparently used to call the tune this way. Nigel’s country style blues licks cool the hot bed groove like a sea breeze across scorching sand. Go is an upbeat 12 bar blues by Price but not just any old 12 bar – I’m certain I have not heard more catchy syncopated shapes thrown together off the cuff - it just shows what regular jamming and practice can do, transforming an often exhausted sequence into something totally fresh.
I adore the band’s interpretation of Herb Ellis’ ballad Detour Ahead, which follows like a smooth chaser. Nigel’s free time introduction tests the water, offering cascades of many melodic possibilities before the rhythm section synchronise his sound. The mellow flavour that the real Hammond organ offers to the mix makes every track moreish but this one especially; the space in Pete’s solo plus the sharp yet smooth expanding and contracting sounds make every single second sparkle.
The CD concludes with two compositions of personal significance, Busy Bee honours Nigel’s long-suffering other half, Bianca (also known to many as Bee)”, her job as a nurse, as well as her other roles, leave her little time to herself no doubt! This 6/8 has a cheeky wiggle about it, as he rightly suggests not unlike the soundtrack to Carry On Doctor - I wonder if she looks like Barbara Windsor?
Another of Nigel’s most loved household members is a chair that originally belonged to Charlie Christian, signed underneath “Chas’s Chair”. It was at Minton’s Playhouse in New York in the early 1940s and has since been signed by Herb Ellis as well as Wes Mongomery. Vasilis adds some more fuel to the trio’s flames with his sax on Hot Seat (Chas’s Chair) written over rhythm changes in Ab to reflect Seven Come Eleven, written by Charlie in the same key. I didn’t realise taking the chart down a tone would change the feel so much, it has a really manly aura to it and I enjoyed it very much! Seriously though, this is an exceptional CD showcasing strength and sensitivity from all the performers, it presents the best of technical jazz, while all the time being melodic, accessible and easy to listen to.