by Ian Mann
January 20, 2024
"A good organ trio rarely fails to raise a smile, but one like this can leave you feeling good for the rest of the day", says guest contributor, guitarist Jamie Taylor.
Nigel Price Organ Trio
“That’s It, Right There.”
Nigel Price – guitar, Ross Stanley – Hammond organ, Joel Barford - drums
Of all the instrumental combinations possible in small group jazz, the classic organ trio must be up there amongst the sounds most likely to lift a weary spirit in its hour of need. Something about the overall effect of drums and guitar mixed with the enduring inventions of Messrs. Hammond and Leslie seems instantly welcoming; an irresistible invitation to bathe in familiar aural warmth.
Whilst this fine release from UK guitarist Nigel Price does take advantage of that unique sonic appeal, however, it’s the depth and variety of the musical content that keeps the listener engrossed. Enlightening sleeve notes reveal the wide range of influences involved and, whilst familiar references such as Pat Martino are impossible to miss in the music itself, some more esoteric nods to Shirley Scott, Dave Stryker, and Lorne Lofsky all ring true as well.
There has been a tendency in recent years for jazz guitarists to favour a compressed, dynamically-even articulation, sometimes further smoothed and softened by digital effects. Naturally it’s horses for courses, and that approach can bear fruit, but it’s refreshing to hear a full-toned guitarist such as Price, whose rhythmic lines pop and chatter like a tenor player enjoying a particularly good reed. Stanley Turrentine, also mentioned in the notes, would certainly have approved.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of fluidity and harmonic invention either. A poised sharp-key ballad feature on “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” is one of many highlights, the guitarist somehow maintaining a compelling narrative amidst a gravity-defying mixture of single lines, double-stops and block chords. Price’s ability to vary texture like this, even at quicker tempos, is perhaps the most immediately striking aspect of his very impressive playing. His compositions, likewise, are a deft balance of familiarity and surprise; they’re the sort of tunes musicians love to play, and one can easily imagine them having a life of their own, beyond this particular project.
Regarding the excellent sidemen, organist Ross Stanley shows yet again why he is held in such great regard, demonstrating his virtuosic command of the entire console with propulsive accompaniments and great timbral range. His solos are a delight too – a cheekily quoting feature on “Falling In Love With Love” is one of many thrilling moments, and it’s a joy to hear the B3’s taps thrown wide open on the coda to Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me”, bringing that little bit of church - much as the composer himself always did.
Though a relative newcomer by comparison, it’s also easy to see on this evidence why drummer Joel Barford is already being talked about in such complimentary terms on the UK jazz scene. With a muscular, well-balanced sound across the kit, he delivers buoyant swing and deep-pocketed funk, whilst his high-energy solo passages deliver as much melodic coherence as they do dexterity. The leader says Barford “eats up” his outro tag on “Falling In Love With Love” and that’s absolutely right.
A good organ trio rarely fails to raise a smile, but one like this can leave you feeling good for the rest of the day.
JAMIE TAYLORblog comments powered by Disqus