Tony Kofi and The Organisation – Point Blank
(The Last Music Company LMCD2019. CD review by Adrian Pallant)
The sight of Tony Kofi picking up baritone sax never fails to produce a tremor of excitement – and on Point Blank, he and The Organisation fervently explore the post-bop jazz repertoire through ten choice numbers from ten artists/composers, including Wes Montgomery, McCoy Tyner, Henry Mancini and Jimmy Smith.
The Organisation – guitarist Simon Fernsby, organist Pete Whittaker and drummer Peter Cater – began life as a London-based organ trio, over a decade ago; and it was only a fortuitous depping opportunity in 2010 which brought Kofi into the mix (shortly after he had recorded in the US with Ornette Coleman), establishing this fine and peppy quartet line-up.
Indeed, it’s an eager and spirited reading of Duke Pearson’s Minor League which heralds these 55 minutes of feel-good, Kofi’s deeply growled tones combining with Fernsby’s lithe guitar, buoyed by Whittaker’s bass-bouncing organ tremolo and Cater’s cymbal-shimmering drums. Closely-matched chordal timbres from guitar and organ provide an effective exchange and mingling of textures throughout, Pepper Adams’ sprightly Bossallegro showcasing the organ trio as Kofi’s breezy melodies sail across; and his smoother baritone expressions glide over an attractive promenading groove in Dr Lonnie Smith’s LS Blues. The sumptuous orchestral romance of Henry Mancini’s Theme from Mr Lucky is exchanged for joyous swing (those gruff bari resonances so visceral), while one of McCoy Tyner’s richest compositions, Search for Peace, though perhaps less lush here than in piano-supported arrangements, possesses a pleasing jazz-club immediacy.
Guitarists Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery are represented in Cisco and Full House respectively – two confidently bustling, about-town blazers which prompt unbridled soloing – and Kofi’s fluency in the lower register is a delight. Woody Shaw’s Moontrane preens itself in true organ-trio character in the central section, with Whittaker’s pedals obviously mobile below his rippling chords and melodies. Summer in Central Park paints Horace Silver’s tune in warmer, afterglow-evoked atmospheres; and it takes something special to improve on a Jimmy Smith original, yet Ready And Able’s breathless, all-out boisterousness becomes irresistible here.
The nod to classic ‘60s jazz album covers hints at this quartet’s experienced approach. Recorded in a single day’s studio session, Kofi, Fernsby, Whittaker and Cater maintain the tradition’s relevance with impeccable focus – and, most importantly, it’s a darned good listen.
Point Blank is released this Friday 31 August.