Site Network: organissimo | Forums | Big O Records




CD Review: 'Groovadelphia', Organissimo
Organissimo displays funky spontaneity with its new 'Groovadelphia'

Chris Rietz| Lansing State Journal - What's On

The most important decision came in 2000, when nationally-renowned Hammond organ ace Jim Alfredson and guitarist Joe Gloss (MSU Jazz Studies classmates) hooked up with veteran drummer Randy Marsh to form Organissimo. "We wanted to ... see what happens, instead of worrying about what is and what isn't jazz."

As a result, they rode in on the wave of the Hammond B-3 revival without falling into the trap of re-creating the Jimmy Smith "organ trio" sound of the 1950s, and they evolved organically into a jazz-schooled ensemble with a decidedly partified, funk-styled edge.

With their third album, "Groovadelphia," hitting the streets nationally on Aug. 19th, Organissimo has grown quite comfortable in their own self-designed shoes, seeming to revel in their effortlessly intuitive, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts ensemble groove.

Two things distinguish "Groovadelphia" from the earlier albums: while Alfredson is certainly the band's cause celebre, guitarist Joe Gloss is on a much longer leash than before. The CD seems like his showcase at times, and his stinging, edgy-toned lines are never cliched or formulaic, his angular phrases tumbling out like well-measured sentences - even at zippy tempos.

The other is that "Groovadelphia" is, more than before, a showcase for ballads: "Traces" with Gloss's wistful nylon-strung guitar, the moody "If Not Now, When?" and the pop-song propulsion of "Danco de Alma," at nine-plus minutes, the album's centerpiece.

All nine tracks here are originals, meaning they were written by various combinations of band members, with the exception of the brief, skipping triple-meter bonbon "My Sweet Potato Pie," written by Arno Marsh, Randy's father.

Even the funkier numbers, like the slow-cooking title track, have a more relaxed groove than Organissimo's earlier stuff, and they're built on simple, riff-based heads that are quickly dispensed with. This too-much-variations-and-not-enough-theme approach can try the patience of listeners who may not already be disposed to appreciate jazz.

But if the boys give themselves license to stretch out, they've earned it. Organissimo is not just a rhythm section with an improviser or two riding atop, but a truly orchestral trio, tight and intuitive, and "Groovadelphia" is a 56- minute-plus fireworks display of funky spontaneity - a rare thing to capture, especially in the studio.