The Biscodini Organ Trio: Lockdown

New York organ combo marks the 65th birthday of the Jimmy Smith trio but updates the style with some rock-oriented drumming


When I think of an organ trio, there’s usually one name that immediately springs to mind – Jimmy Smith. Last year marked the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the Jimmy Smith trio, which called for a celebratory album launch according to the Biscordini Organ Trio.

Like many records in this unprecedented age, Lockdown was recorded remotely. Each instrument was individually recorded in three separate locations, and the outcome is impressive, given that detachment. 

The set opens with the bright and captivating The Mask. It’s pure straightahead, and the ride cymbal swings strongly, but needed to be more present. Donuts Spelled Backwards features a well-executed Afro-Cuban groove sprinkled with a sophisticated jazz melody. Beau Did He screams of Eddie Harris’s Freedom Jazz Dance in a sort of New Orleans guise. 

Curt Bisquera’s drum style is unconventional compared to that of past organ-trio drummers such as Grady Tate or Ron Jefferson. He plays far fewer swung eighth notes and pays more attention to rock grooves. Curt said: “I didn’t want it to come from that traditional sense of Jimmy Smith or Groove Holmes . . . Because I’m a pop-rock drummer I thought, screw that. I’m going to tie my jazz drumming abilities to arrangements with a rock sensibility. That’s where I was coming from as a drummer. The jazz came from Scott and John.”

Some may argue this approach takes away part of the essence of organ trio but it’s important to ask: Why try and replicate a sound that is already present when you have the opportunity to create something refreshing and unique?

The tunes are short and snappy, each lasting on average four minutes with little margin to expand solos. Perhaps this is the pop inspiration at work. A majority of the tracks have fadeouts so purists, beware. Nonetheless, the character of the organ trio has been well maintained. This is a neat, foot-tapping selection of originals with the odd cover that played smoothly on a wet English summer evening.

The Mask; Biscodini Boogaloo; Donuts Spelled Backwards; 2020 Shuffle; Karen Stay Home; Beau Did He; Canyon Road; Song for My Father; 6 Ft. Distance; Swabbed (41.29)
Scott Healy (org); John Chiodini (g); Curt Bisquera (d). Luedog Studio, Black Couch Studio and Chiodini Studio, 2020.
Hudson City Records