Mar 19, 2021
Listeners to the Straight No Chaser podcast know that there are a few styles and instrumental configurations of jazz recordings that always catch my ear. I’m a sucker for Brazilian jazz, for piano trios, groups led by bassists, and by organ players. In the last regard, I hadn’t caught up with the music of Brian Charette as a band leader (but loved him as part of John Ellis' Double Wide group), and Podcast 805 remedies that oversight.
Charette is a Downbeat Rising Star on the organ, and a regular on their Critic's Poll, as well as a columnist for magazines like Keyboard and Electronic Musician. He’s worked with top artists in seemingly every genre including Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Kahn, and NEA Jazz Master, saxophonist George Coleman. He has two recent releases, greatly varied in sound. During the lock-down days of the pandemic, he utilized his knowledge of electronic music and programmed music machinery to take his organ some places I’ve never heard them go, collecting the pieces on a solo album called Like the Sun Recorded live in the studio without overdubs, he calls the album “Kraftwerk meets Harlem juke joint”.
He’s back in a group setting on the brand-new release on the SteepleChase label, Power from the Air. While there are some familiar organ sounds on this album, Charette has grafted a wind ensemble (Itai Kriss – flute, Mike DiRubbo - alto sax, Kenny Brooks - tenor sax, and Karel Ruzicka - bass clarinet) onto his more traditional organ rhythm section anchored by drummer Brian Fisher. The result creates musical surprises that can move not only your feet, but more often than not, your mind as well.
Podcast 805 is my conversation with Brian Charette, and musical selections from both albums are featured ,including the title track from Like the Sun, and the incendiary “Fried Birds” and more meditative "As If to Say" from Power from the Air.