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Island Universe

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Album Review

Although the instrumentation on this CD might lead one to think that the music on the session is a typical organ date from the 1960s (with alto used instead of tenor), the first moments of the opening "All Cracked Up" immediately changes one's expectations. Organist Jeff Palmer does his best to blow away any thoughts of Jimmy Smith as he plays harmonically advanced and sometimes nearly atonal improvisations. The music is quite adventurous (although often swinging) with plenty of fiery interaction between the musicians. Altoist Arthur Blythe's highly original tone (which sometimes sounds halfway between Cannonball Adderley and Eric Dolphy) fits in perfectly with Palmer and the eccentric soloing of guitarist John Abercrombie. It is a particular joy to hear the legendary drummer Rashied Ali (still best-known for being a member of John Coltrane's Quintet during 1966-67) playing at the peak of his powers after nearly 30 years of general obscurity. But it is Jeff Palmer who deserves the bulk of the credit for this set's success. He contributed all ten pieces and is one of the few organists around today who has managed to escape from the dominant Jimmy Smith influence, developing a style that is even beyond Larry Young. The music on his CD is sometimes quite dark and mildly disturbing but it is also quite often extroverted and full of wild spirits; even "Amerigo" (which is basically a blues) is unpredictable. Jeff Palmer's best recording thus far, Island Universe is highly recommended.


Born: 1951 in Jackson Heights, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

A fine organist who has carved out his own voice from the dominant Jimmy Smith influence, Jeff Palmer started out on accordion. He switched to organ when he was around 15 and was completely self-taught, never having been a pianist. Palmer has played with such guitarists as Grant Green, George Benson, John Scofield, and John...
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Island Universe, Jeff Palmer
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