A more successful organ-led session than Kofi's, and Bobby Hutcherson really was in great form here. Not much more to say, really...
Concord Jazz (CCD-2306-2)
The Tackle; Little B’s Poem; I Thought About You; Somewhere In The Night; Down The Hatch; Speak Low; JeNeane’s Dream; My Foolish Heart; Colleen.
Joey DeFrancesco (org); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); Ron Blake (ts/ss/f); Jake Langley (g); Byron Landham (d); George Coleman (ts - tracks 4,6), (Recorded August 2005).
A new recording by Joey DeFrancesco, the thinking man’s Hammond B3 choice and officially anointed heir to the late Jimmy Smith’s crown, is always worth a listen, even if he does resort to the much abused ‘organic’ title-pun. As the ‘vibes’ in the pun belong to Bobby Hutcherson, DeFrancesco can be forgiven this small lapse in taste, for it is the only one he makes on this instant classic.
Hutcherson will probably be better known to most listeners for his forward looking post-bop. He does however have a bit of a history of popping up in organ combos. Big John Patton’s Let ‘Em Roll (Blue Note) is perhaps the most famous example, though the music here is less disposed to boogaloo and closer to more mainstream sessions such as Grant Green’s Street Of Dreams (Blue Note).
Organic Vibes also boasts two cameos by the great George Coleman, and on the remainder of the cuts the ever dependable Ron Blake blows with conviction. His use of soprano saxophone and flute gives a more expansive feel over other DeFrancesco recordings I’ve heard, and with tasty guitar from newcomer Jake Langley and solid support from long-term drum fixture Byron Landham, this group wants for nothing.
Principally, however, the focus is on DeFrancesco and Hutcherson. The vibesman probably hasn’t sounded as good on record in the last decade, and DeFrancesco must take some credit for this. Both men are gifted with musical radar that can detect the slightest harmonic shift, both readily turn great phrases out of seemingly nothing, and both have can take your breath away at any tempo. Witness Hutcherson’s artful solo on “I Thought About You” and you’ll know what I mean. DeFrancesco follows up with a statement of equal weight, typical of the way in which the pair repeatedly bring out the best in one another.
There are quite simply no weak tracks on this album, but of course the Hutcherson classic “Little B’s Poem” is bound to stand a little prouder. This version is taken slightly faster than is normal, and the sound of Blake’s flute leading the gorgeous melodic line is the stuff of musical magic. Special mention also to the Monk-ish “Down The Hatch” which is great knockabout, Coleman’s gritty and graceful reading of “Speak Low” which is as moving as it is memorable, and the tricky opener, with Blake’s smouldering tenor solo serving as a fitting curtain raiser to an hour of passionate, sincere and totally committed music making. Strongly recommended.
(Jazz Review, July 2006)