Pat Bianchi: Three

NY Hammond organist plays standards from Berlin, Porter, Shorter and others with saxophonist Troy Roberts and drummer Colin Stranahan

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I must admit to having a very soft spot for the Hammond B-3 organ and when it is played as well as Pat Bianchi does it, you will hear no complaints from me. Three features New Yorker Bianchi’s new line-up with saxophonist Troy Roberts and drummer Colin Stranahan in a classic organ-trio setting.

Whilst this album features a mix of classic and modern standards, Bianchi is not afraid to experiment, as evidenced by his last two albums, In The Moment and Something To Say. Whilst this material may seem like a safe option, it nonetheless provides a worthwhile platform for Bianchi’s amazing virtuosity and a showcase for the talents of Roberts and Stranahan.

This is also the first time that Bianchi has opted for sax and drums to accompany the organ, rather than the more conventional guitar and drums line-up. In this regard, he follows in the footsteps of his organ heroes, Don Patterson and Joey DeFrancesco – both of whom worked extensively with sax supremos such as Sonny Stitt, Houston Pearson, Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn and many others.

Roberts is also no stranger to big names, having played with the likes of Van Morrison, Christian McBride and Kurt Elling. From the evidence of this album, it certainly appears that both Bianchi and Roberts are on the same page musically. Denver-born Colin Stranahan cut his teeth on the New York club scene but has also played with some important players, including Terence Blanchard and Fred Hersch.

The objective for the album was to keep it simple and aim for more of “live’ feel rather than a polished studio product. The trio went into the studio with little discussion or preparation, and no arrangements. The finished result is fresh, absorbing and thoroughly entertaining. The term “live studio recording” can be ambiguous at the best of times, but this comes close.

The album concludes with an actual live recording of the Berlin standard Cheek To Cheek (made at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis) but had it not been for the audience applause, this track would have been undistinguishable from all the others in terms of spontaneity, high-voltage adrenalin and tautness.

Other classics featured are Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust and Cole Porter’s Love For Sale, while more modern standards are taken care of with Eddie Harris’s Cryin’ Blues and Wayne Shorter’s Dance Cadaverous. Pitching up from the 1950s is Marvin Fisher’s When Sunny Gets Blue.

Leaving aside my predisposition for anything featuring the Hammond, this album is a treat and will be enjoyed by any jazz fan who simply revels in great music played by great musicians.

Discography
Love For Sale; When Sunny Gets Blue; Dance Cadaverous; Cryin’ Blues; Stardust; Cheek To Cheek (49.00)
Bianchi (org); Troy Roberts (s); Colin Stranahan (d). Recorded at Trading 8’s Studio, Paramus, New Jersey and The Jazz Kitchen, Indianapolis. No dates provided.
Pat Bianchi Music Inc/21H Records 21H003