This Is Organ Night
Billy Holloman's This Is Organ Night is as subtle as roller derby. There are centrifugal waves of harmony, and hopscotched phrases from Holloman's massive B-3 organ. There are bashed snare and cymbal accents and turbulent bundles of beats from Kenny Horst that sound like a squadron of midgets somersaulting downstairs. Saxophonist Gary Berg courses over the rhythm like a surfer hanging ten on tenor and alto. A rollicking if occasionally excessive affair, the disc sets a limited agenda--re-creating and advertising Holloman's Tuesday night gigs at St. Paul's Artists' Quarter--and succeeds in spades. What do you expect from a man nicknamed "The Legend"?
"Organ jazz" is the music's most predictably pleasurable pick-me-up, as easy to make and satisfying to consume as fried chicken. Holloman's time-tested recipe includes kindergarten crowd-pleasers like "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and renowned highbrow doodles such as Paul Desmond's "Take 5." But Organ Night also showcases some of his more raffish wrinkles, such as a turbo-charged flirtation with Thelonious Monk's skewed-jive aesthetic on "Well You Needn't," a knowledgeable embrace of a pair of Horace Silver's yearning yet funky shadowboxing exercises ("Sister Sadie" and "Senior Blues"), and a rendition of Bobby Timmons's "Dis Here" that's an oasis of restraint, highlighted by, of all things, an immaculately cogent drum solo from Horst.
One could quibble that the trio's take on Jack McDuff's "Real Good'n" is about three choruses too long, or that the graceful latticework of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" is perhaps ill-suited to their attack. But you don't come to Organ Night--the disc or the gigs--fixing to administer cerebral wedgies. Let the bartender pull you a draft. Holloman's about to launch into "Funky Mamma."