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Album Review

In jazz circles, the electric Hammond B-3 organ is still closely identified with the soul-jazz/hard bop of Jimmy Smith and his disciples (who have included Richard "Groove" Holmes, Shirley Scott, Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, Big John Patton, Joey DeFrancesco, and countless others). But jazz organ playing also has an exciting post-Jimmy Smith history — first with the late post-bop/fusion innovator Larry Young, subsequently with improvisers who have ranged from John Medeski to Larry Goldings to Barbara Dennerlein. Austrian organist Raphael Wressnig has demonstrated that he is comfortable with Smith-influenced soul-jazz grooves as well as with material that favors a post-Smith perspective — and both of those approaches can be found on Live at the Off Festival, which documents a 2007 appearance in Sibenik, Croatia. A two-disc set, Live at the Off Festival consists of a ten-song DVD and an eight-song, 77-minute audio CD; two of the tunes that are on the DVD ("Dano-Mite" and "Ease Back") aren't on the CD, but it's the same concert whether one prefers the audio-visual version or the shorter audio-only version. Both the DVD and the CD easily capture the excitement of Wressnig's performance in Sibenik, where he forms a quartet with trumpeter/flügelhornist Scott Steen, guitarist Enrico Crivellaro, and drummer Lukas Knöfler. And the sparks fly whether Wressnig and his colleagues are getting into a funky, blues-drenched soul-jazz groove on "Banana Boogaloo," "Speedin'," and "West 43rd Street Blues," or favoring more of a post-bop perspective on "Boom Bello" and "Cherokee" (not to be confused with the Ray Noble standard). Live at the Off Festival shows Wressnig's appreciation of Smith and his disciples, but it also demonstrates that he is well aware of post-Smith approaches to jazz organ playing. Variety is a definite plus on this solid document of Wressnig's Sibenik gig.

Live At the Off Festival, Raphael Wressnig
View In iTunes
  • $5.99
  • Genres: Blues, Music, Rock
  • Released: Jul 17, 2009

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