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Trio JDM

Fast Corners

by Ian Mann

January 24, 2024


One of the most enjoyable albums in the organ trio format that I’ve heard in quite some time, with the focus very much on original material. Trio JDM explore the full potential of the Hammond format.

Trio JDM

“Fast Corners”

(Taccola Records)

Jamie Taylor – guitar, Dave Walsh – drums, Martin Longhawn – B3 Hammond organ

Trio JDM is a new group featuring three leading jazz musicians from the North of England, all of whom have worked with the top musicians on their local scene as well as with players with national and even international reputations.

Although notionally led by the vastly experienced drummer Dave Walsh the band is essentially an ‘organ trio’ that draws inspiration from the classic recordings of the great American organists Jimmy Smith and Larry Young, but which is also influenced by more contemporary acts such as Medeski, Martin & Wood, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and the Larry Goldings / Peter Bernstein / Bill Stewart trio.

The members of Trio JDM have previously been mentioned on the Jazzmann web pages. In 2014 I reviewed the album “Introducing Outside Line”, a quartet recording featuring the compositions of Jamie Taylor, who was joined by Walsh, bassist Garry Jackson and saxophonist Matt Anderson.

Much more recently Taylor became a guest contributor to The Jazzmann with his succinct and perceptive review of “That’s It. Right There”, the new release from fellow guitarist Nigel Price’s organ trio, featuring Ross Stanley on Hammond and Joel Barford at the drums. Thanks, Jamie.

Walsh has featured in reviews of recordings by bassists Ben Crosland and Gavin Barrass and by pianist Jamil Sheriff, as well as in live performance with saxophonist Rod Mason.

Longhawn has been featured in a review of a live performance by saxophonist Krzystof Urbanski ‘s group Urban Jazz Society, this show at the Green Note in Camden forming part of the 2015 London Jazz Festival.
He is also well known for his membership of yet another ‘organ trio’,  Svarc/Hanley/Longhawn, who adopt a hard grooving, funky, contemporary sound. The line up is completed by guitarist Nic Svarc and drummer Steve Hanley.

Turning now to “Fast Corners”, which combines the traditional virtues of the organ trio with more contemporary developments. The ten track programme features four originals each from Taylor and Longhawn, plus arrangements of compositions by guitarist Peter Bernstein and saxophonist Charlie Parker.

The album commences with Longhawn’s “Mulsanne”, introduced by Walsh at the drums. This represents a lively introduction to the three musicians, with Longhawn exploring the full sonic capabilities of the Hammond during the course of a solo that embraces the jazz organ trio tradition, but also hints at fusion and even prog rock. Taylor follows, soloing with an easy fluency as Longhawn now drops back, combining with Walsh to contribute to the trio’s impressive rhythmic drive. Longhawn subsequently resumes the lead before Walsh is featured with a series of scintillating drum breaks. An invigorating and highly enjoyable start.

From the same composer “Saint Devote” introduces a more reflective side of the trio and is introduced by spacious, subtly brooding, church like organ. There’s a hymn like quality about the music that only begins to dissipate with the introduction of guitar and drums, but the overall mood of the piece remains lyrical and introspective as it progresses through elegant, well constructed solos from Longhawn and Taylor, the group exhibiting an impressive command of timbre and dynamics throughout.

Longhawn’s third offering with the pen is “Turn Three”, a jazz waltz as its title might suggest, although the name of the piece also references  the quickest part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Although I’m not a motor sports buff a look at the titles of some of the other original tunes suggests that there might indeed be a “Fast Corners” theme running throughout the album.
This piece grooves along with a louche,  easy insouciance and incorporates fluent solos from Taylor and Longhawn, the whole driven along by Walsh’s crisp, authoritative, but never overbearing drumming.

Taylor takes up the compositional reins for “The Shepherd’s Crook”, introduced by guitar and drums and featuring a bebop flavoured ‘head’ allied to a loping groove that provides the ideal platform for expansive solos from Longhawn and Taylor, plus a drum feature from Walsh.

The Peter Bernstein composition “Little Green Men” comes from the repertoire of the celebrated US organ trio featuring the composer, organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart. Goldings is something of a hero to a whole host of British Hammond players, among them Ross Stanley. Bernstein’s tune is irresistible and Trio JDM tackle it with relish, delivering a fiery,  fast paced, swinging performance with inspired solos from both Taylor and Longhawn, plus a series of effervescent drum breaks from Walsh. One senses that Bernstein, Goldings and Stewart would be suitably impressed.

Longhawn’s “The Corkscrew” draws inspiration from the music of Delvon Lamarr and introduces an appealing funk element to the proceedings as choppy guitar and surging Hammond combine with Walsh’s brisk drum grooves.  Longhawn and Taylor subsequently stretch out with sparkling solos, the guitarist sounding as if he’s auditioning for Steely Dan. Walsh also features strongly, and this listener was also reminded of some of John Scofield’s blues / funk excursions.

Walsh’s drums usher in a lively, joyous performance of Charlie Parker’s bebop classic “Ah-Leu-Cha” and he continues to play a prominent role throughout, culminating in a series of sizzling exchanges with Taylor and Longhawn, both of whom deliver fleet fingered solos of their own.

Taylor’s “Marazion” is one of the trio’s gentler pieces, although hardly lacking in terms of energy. A relaxed groove provides the foundation for the melodic inventions of the composer’s guitar solo and for one of Longhawn’s more pensive Hammond outings.

Also by Taylor “Lost Hearts” draws inspiration from the music of Lifetime, the fusion group led by drummer Tony Williams and featuring organist Larry Young and Yorkshire born guitarist John McLaughlin. The piece is introduced by an atmospheric and neatly constructed drum feature from Walsh, this leading into more expansive soundscape featuring some impressive ensemble playing allied to the intelligent soloing of Taylor and Longhawn. At nearly ten minutes duration this highly evocative track is the lengthiest on the album and unlocks the full potential of the organ trio format.

The album concludes with Taylor’s “Elementary Waltz”, introduced by a gentle passage of unaccompanied guitar from the composer. He continues to lead the way as organ and brushed drums are added, but with Longhawn subsequently taking over as the featured soloist, gradually increasing the energy levels as Walsh transitions to sticks. Taylor subsequently takes over once more with a sinuously melodic and inventive guitar solo as the album gradually draws to a close.

It’s good to hear an organ trio recording that places the main focus on original material, and the intelligent and varied writing of both Longhawn and Taylor fully justifies this decision. That said the two covers represent excellent choices and both are brilliantly performed.

It’s also good to hear an organ trio album that eschews the usual ‘Blue Note cliches’ in favour of something more adventurous, albeit acknowledging the influence of Lifetime and of more contemporary acts. Trio JDM certainly explore the full potential of the Hammond trio format and they are aided in this endeavour by an engineering team that includes Owain Fleetwood, Tom Sinnett and Dave O’Higgins (yes, the acclaimed saxophonist), all of whom deserve great credit.

This is one of the most enjoyable albums in the organ trio format that I’ve heard in quite some time and it would be good to see Trio JDM venturing out of their northern heartlands and travelling further south to play a few gigs. On the evidence of this excellent recording this is a group that I would very much like to see performing live.

“Fast Corners” is available from the Trio JDM Bandcamp page.

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