Organamix: Groovin' at Groove Junction (2009)
The Hammond organ is 75 this year. The classic Hammond B3 model has had an illustrious half century and the story of jazz is studded with famous practitioners. Since the B3 came off the production line in the 1970s it has been replaced by clone-wheel models using advanced sound modeling technology, which have the advantage of being much easier to transport than the 250kg B3 and accompanying rotor speaker. Importantly, as the B3 becomes a museum piece the sound thankfully remains, and trios like Organamix keep a long tradition alive which began with Wild Bill Davis at the beginning of the 1950s.
Groovin' at Groove Junction captures the trio, nominally led by veteran pianist/organist Jeremy Monteiro, in a live setting in Kuala Lumpar running through a set of standards with great aplomb. Although Monteiro is known as a pianist, here he returns to his roots as he started out teaching Hammond over thirty years ago; there are few signs of rust.
The first two numbersWes Montgomery's "Fried Pies" and Joe Zawinul's hit "Mercy, Mercy,Mercy"throw talented guitarist Andrew Lim into the spotlight, with Monteiro and drummer Hong taking a supporting role. Lim captures the same easy grace and bluesy twang of Montgomery without falling into the trap of imitation. His playing is clean and linear and veers more towards 1960s-era Grant Green.
Luis Bonfa's much covered "Black Orpheus" (Manha De Carnaval) begins with another lovely extended statement from Lim, which teases the melody over gently bubbling Hammond and Hong's light touch on the drums. Monteiro plays a beautifully measured solo which meanders happily, gaining in potency and volume before leaving the stage all to Hong whose solo is in keeping with the grace of the composition. Lim returns to the head and Monteiro closes out with church-like reverence.
Raising the temperature a touch, Lou Donaldson's classic "Alligator Boogaloo" first recorded on Blue Note in 1967brings the best out of the trio with the most animated playing on the album from both Monteiro and Lim. Monteiro' solo in particular bears favorable comparison with the original by Hammond maestro Lonnie Smith.
This is Monteiro's 26th album in a career spanning 30-plus years, and on occasion he has been known to stretch his vocal chords. On "I'm Old Fashioned" by Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern, Monteiro reveals his talent as a singer as the trio really swings.
An enjoyable set is rounded off with Bobby Hebb's "Sunny." Lim's guitar evokes Montgomery (who also recorded this song) on the intro before Monteiro stretches out on an upbeat solo of verve and passion which stirs the crowd.
Conceived very much as a group of equal billing, Organamix is the latest in a long line of Hammond-based groups which stretches from Wild Bill Davis, through Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and on down to today's practitioners like Joey DeFrancesco and Jeppe Tuxen. To that list add Monteiro, and his partners Lim and Hong.
Track Listing: Fried Pies; Mercy Mercy Mercy; Black Oroheus (Manha De Carnaval); Alligator Boogaloo; I'm Old Fashioned; Sunny.
Personnel: Jeremy Monteiro: organ, vocals (5); Andrew Lim: guitar; Hong (Chanutr Techatana-nan): drums.