Artist: Joe Marcinek Band
Genre: Soul-Jazz, Hammond B3
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Terre Haute Blues (7:30)
If You Want (6:45)
What Cha Gonna Do (5:33)
Mercy Boogie (6:41)
The organ trio rose to popularity in the ’50s and ’60s, when musicians looked for compact ensembles they could take on the road. The organ was, almost invariably, the venerated Hammond B3 with its accompanying Leslie cabinet. Organ and drums were joined by either a guitarist or a saxophone player. The organist handled the bass, either with bass pedals or the low end of the keyboard. The music was often referred to as soul jazz, an amalgam of jazz with blues, gospel, and R&B intertwined.
The third album from The Joe Marcinek Band, due to be released this Friday, November 16th, is an homage to that glorious style. Marcinek is an outstanding guitarist who can rock and funk in concert with the best of them, but both previous JMB albums, Both Sides (2016) and Slink (2017), leaned much more heavily to the jazz side. JM3 — or JMIII — is 100% soul jazz, and he penned all eight tunes.
For this new project, Marcinek enlisted the help of two titans of today’s scene, Wil Blades and Terence Higgins. Blades, a West Coast mainstay from San Francisco, is the in-demand organist and has various projects going, including duos with Billy Martin and with Scott Amendola and trios with Will Bernard and Stanton Moore. Higgins is a Crescent City exponent, working his drum magic with Dirty Dozen Brass Band and John Scofield’s Piety Street Band in addition to his own band, Swampgrease.
The album’s pedigree made numerous stops. Ari Rios did the recording at Laughing Tiger Studios in San Rafael. Next, Alan Evans (Soulive) mixed it at Iron Wax Studios. It was mastered at Evergroove Studios by Brad Smalling, and Charley Robinson of Iconoclast Design Co. did the cover artwork.
The eight tracks and 50 minutes of this album simply shimmer. It is a wonderful testament to all three players — absolutely equals in this process. By turns, each gentlemen has the opportunity to shine — over and over again.
“Mojo” is the most uptempo track on JM3. Higgins punches this one along with perfect syncopation. The groove is relentless, also pushed by Blades’s bass. Meanwhile, organ and guitar dance on the groove. Marcinek is clearly here a devotee of both Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. He also cites John Scofield and Django Reinhardt as major influences. By comparison, “Terra Haute Blues” very laid back, a soulful ditty that could have been an R&B hit cover.
“Funnily” is even more laid back, a lovely ballad. Blades’s lush B3 orchestrations here — and throughout the album — are gorgeous. And Higgins’ accents are masterful. Marcinek squeezes out a very Phil Upchurch-like solo. The trio leaps from laid back to all-out funk on “If You Want,” by far the funkiest tune on the album. It’s that deep soulful funk; Kelly Finnigan and his band Monophonics have been mining this same groove.
“Roses” is a light pop vamp, very reminiscent of popular standards that have been interpreted for decades by jazz musicians. Its uptempo and airy feel makes it float. And then, another direction change with the blues deluxe of “What Cha Gonna Do.” Blades’s solos are superb, and his bass lines are even better. Makes you want to get up and do a slow interpretive dance.
“Mercy Boogie” has a gospel twist to the soul jazz, Here Marcinek again dotes on the playing of Grant Green. And the album closes with a soulful R&B melody called “Luna,” taken at a very leisurely pace. Blades is clearly a Jimmy Smith fan, but there are so many other influences in his playing, including Big John Patton, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Larry Young.
JM3 is a sheer delight, a brilliant respite from the madness of right now and a great glimpse at one of the best products jazz has ever produced: the organ trio.
by Scott Hopkins