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Lansing State Journal - October 13, 2005

Lansing-based jazz group gets national airplay with new disc

Organist Jim Alfredson grew up listening to progressive rock and jazz; for guitarist Joe Gloss, it was bluegrass, classical guitar and, yes, even metal; drummer Randy Marsh tuned into standard jazz.

But somehow the guys in Organissimo still find common ground to write their variety-packed jazz tunes.

And the nation has caught on. The Lansing-based trio is receiving airplay on both jazz and college radio formats with its sophomore album, "This Is the Place." The CD has climbed as high as No. 25 in JazzWeek and No. 6 on the college charts.

The group, which plays its Lansing CD release show at the Creole Gallery Friday, is set up like a classic organ trio - the organ-guitar-drums format that has been around for a half-century.

That organ trio format was most popular in the 1950s and '60s, and it slowly died off as synthesizers and rock 'n' roll started to hit it big in the '70s and '80s. The organ came back into vogue in the '90s, but, Alfredson said, "At that point, the guys bringing it back were doing the same thing that the guys were doing in the '50s."

Alfredson didn't want to do that.

"We wanted to bring in our varied musical influences and see what happens, instead of worrying about what is and what isn't jazz," Alfredson said.

So, the trio started crafting unique-sounding jazz tunes.

Now, "This is the Place" is a conglomeration of jazz-flavored sounds, from straight-ahead swing to funk to gospel. Recorded at Glenn Brown Productions in East Lansing, the disc has been in the works for two years.

What is Alfredson's favorite song on the album? "Pumpkin Pie," a tune named for his 17-month-old daughter.

"It was actually one of the quickest tunes that we've written together," Alfredson said. "It came together in just a couple of hours. It's named for my daughter. Her name is Zora, but my nickname for her is 'Pumpkin Pie.' We named it after her because it's a playful, little tune."

With all of the tunes on the CD being pumped out of radios everywhere, Alfredson has found it increasingly easier to book out-of-state gigs in jazz hot spots.

"It's allowed us to book these gigs in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, going on the fact that we have good radio play," said Alfredson.

Here's a little-known fact about Organissimo: The band's Web site ( ) hosts one of the top three online jazz discussion forums in the country. It currently has almost 400,000 posts; at any given time, there's anywhere from 60 to 100 people posting; every day, three to five new people join the forum.

"It's a very vital, energetic community," Alfredson said, "and they talk about everything jazz and music; they really get into it."

Show details: Organissimo CD release show, 8 p.m. Friday, Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St., 487-9549; $13.