Blicher Hemmer Gadd: It Will Be Alright

A decade on, the legendary drummer Steve Gadd is still knocking out high-quality classic organ-trio jazz with his Danish companions

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It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Danish duo Michael Blicher (saxophone) and Dan Hemmer (organ) connected with American session drummer Steve Gadd to form this slick, Hammond-heavy trio. Yet, three albums and even more tours later, the band are still delivering their warm homage to the classic organ outfits of the 1960s, a sound that also embraces the R&B of that era mixed with the all-marching vibe of the mardi-gras in party mode.

Whether it be on disc or any of their live shows, there’s always a beautifully soulful connection between these three guys whenever they get in a room and play together. It’s this magnetism, musicianship and mutual love for the era of music they salute that’s cemented their rich reputation. It’s also helped overthrow inevitable obstacles they have faced, such as conflicting individual work schedules, Gadd being based 3000  miles from his bandmates, or the recording and heavily delayed release of this, the trio’s fourth album.

As follow-up to 2019’s well-received Get Your Motor Runnin’, It Will Be Alright was originally intended to be an all-new live set. But thanks to the pandemic slamming the brakes on all gig plans, Blicher was left to assemble the record we have now using five pre-pandemic live cuts and two tunes tracked just after lockdown in a home studio in his garden. One of said studio tracks, Any Moment Now, opens the record and, in a mellow tone, displays directly the intimate, sensitive and often simplistic side of the band.

Above the gentle swish of bossa-felt brushes and a soft-but-sludgy syncopated organ figure, Blicher blows light, breathy blues lines on tenor. A more upbeat Susanna follows and brings some punchier riff-playing from the saxophonist, tight to a second line-style beat from Gadd that flips to a more straight-ahead groove in keeping with the tune’s playful main melody. Between the cracks, in unison with sax, or completely washing over the often equally percussive playoffs between Blicher and Gadd, Hemmer adds colour, whirling tension or rhythmic ideas of his own. The Hammond player’s most poignant moments though are discernible during ballads such as the gospel-influenced First One To Know, or the bluesier title track, where the reverberating sound of the organ’s low-end provides a warm bed for decorative runs, melodious, high-register soloing and Blicher at his most expressive.

A highlight of the album is the lively Lady Tambourine which Gadd introduces with a martial groove reminiscent of the ones he lent to Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover or his own Crazy Army. It’s an all-out funky affair, climaxing with a long, rudimental snare-drum solo from the veteran sticksman. From the audible appreciation of Gadd’s awe-inspiring break, the album fades to the set’s other selection from the studio in Snow – a four-minute, brush-light ballad that brings to a close the trio’s most seductive disc to date, and firm confirmation that, despite creative stalls and setbacks, this knockout band still deliver.


Discography
Any Moment Now; Susanna; Through The Hurricane; The First One To Know; It Will Be Alright; Lady Tambourine; Snow (34.40)
Michael Blicher (s, pc); Dan Hemmer (org); Steve Gadd (d) plus Eddi Jarl, Rune Harder Oleson (pc). Recorded live in Helsinki, Larvik, Esbjerg, GI. Rye and home studio, Copenhagen.
C-Nut Records CNUT19