The organ trio has come a ways from when I listened to the format regularly. Back in the day, Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes (and of course, Jimmy Smith) ruled the roost, and the music was often blues-based and would swing mostly in a mainstream jazz manner.
While there are still such organ groups in 2017, the field has expanded to include ensembles like Organic Trio, a group I know through the guitar work of longtime New Orleans resident Brian Seeger. These guys are no slouches; their separate resumes include work with Nicholas Payton, Biréli Lagrène, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joshua Redman and many others.
The Organic Trio has interesting grooves, certainly, like the complex 5/4 meter of “Saturn’s Spell” or the 6/8 (or is it 2/4?) feeling that is part of the fun of “The Flower.” Nevertheless, rhythmic trickery is a small part of this band’s appeal. There is strong composing here, with careful attention to counterpoint (“But When Do We Eat?”) and dynamics, concepts ignored in so much jazz. It’s safe to say that one of Seeger’s influences is the titanic guitarist Bill Frisell, as two of the disc’s strongest tracks (“Vum Land,” and “Buffalo Trace”) show his mark.
Organist Jean-Yves Jung, a Frenchmen with deep experience in America and Europe, plays the keys like a pianist, without the long-hold squeals that Hammond B3 players so easily fall into. And drummer Paul Wiltgen, from Luxembourg, plays with focused intensity, but never loudly, which is so rare and so welcome.
There’s a Meters-like tune here (“Quirky”) for the jam band crowd, but even this is Meters-from-Mars music. These guys are fresh; they set out to explore the “ethereal and the poignant,” and do it in a novel, exciting way.