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City's Top Jazzers Jingle and Throb


Last Sunday night, Jim Alfredson, the composer/organist brain behind the national-chart-topping trio Organissimo, threw a party for a few dozen friends at his home in Lansing.

The trio's upcoming holiday gig Sunday, Dec. 14, at The Small Planet caps a landmark year for Alfredson and his bandmates, guitarist Joe Gloss and drummer Randy Marsh.

Sunday's party, too, had a victory-lap flavor.

After some mingling, Alfredson escaped to his basement studio, where the only evidence of the revelry was the constant creak of upstairs floorboards. “Welcome to my lair,” he said.

People around the world are listening to the vibrations that emanated from here several months ago. This is where Alfredson, Gloss and Marsh recorded “Groovadelphia,” their third CD, which climbed the CMJ national jazz charts this fall, spending three weeks at No. 1. “It's a little strange,” Gloss said, “seeing our names up there with all those people we generally idolize.”

Gloss paused, deep in thought. “A part of me wonders whether it's a fluke.”

Alfredson is just happy the group didn't have to give in to a pre-digested formula to get airplay. “It's nice because it's kind of a vindication — people are accepting what we're doing,” Alfredson said.

Step by step, the trio has expanded its range, carving out a series of hybrid dance-soul-jazz grooves all its own. “We wanted to take what we know about jazz and other kinds of music, create something new and be honest about the whole thing, and people seem to be getting that,” Alfredson said.

Gloss said Organissimo's success reminds him of Joe Zawinul, the Austrian-born composer-keyboardist and member of Weather Report. Zawinul, who died in 2007, was a many-faceted musician with a knack for writing popular hits without losing a shred of credibility. “He was able to craft songs that reached out to huge audiences, but there was no obvious pandering,” Gloss said. “I like to think that's our slant, too. We just play music that we like.”

City Pulse - Dec. 10, 2008