Delvon Lamarr Trio
I Told You So
The Delvon Lamarr Trio has quietly made two very good records – one studio, one live and now they return, with a new drummer in the fold (the excellent Grant Schroff) for a second bite down in the studio – and a brilliant third album. This should be the one that sends them to the next level, has them gathering the crowds like Khruangbin.
The clue is there in the title, I Told You So. This is a band that knows how good it is. Organist Delvon Lamarr and guitarist Jimmy James have been doing it for a while now, honing this sound. The new guy on the kit slipped in and has made the unit even more muscular. Check out Aces. A tight, lean groove, no fat, no frills, no fills, just engine-room. It’s utterly sublime – to hear a drummer just push and push and take nothing away from the groove ever, only ever giving his all without getting in the way of it.
So the touchstones remain from the previous outings. Everything from Booker T and the M.G.’s to Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith and Richard “Groove” Holmes; the aesthetic is very much rooted in 60s jazz-funk. The small organ combo with the big sound – chuck in a bit of the swagger of The Meters and the jazziness of Ramsey Lewis and Jimmy McGriff.
But there’s something that drives in this music a little harder. I feel like these instrumentals could be matched to your favourite rapper’s a capellas; this is more sinewy and frankly better than those Daptone house bands and that whole sharp-suited set of groups that arrive on the back of Amy Winehouse’s success. Maybe it’s in Jimmy James’ ability to be Charlie Christian one minute and Jimi Hendrix the next – he knows how get to the gristle (Right Place, Right Time).
I Told You So is the sound of a band doing everything right. the downbeat funk of From The Streets where Schroff is given a few bars to state the groove and that is entirely what he does. Just slamming down on the hi-hat, kick and snare, no extraneous noises, no jazz hands, just a big soul heart, just a smart funk head.
But it’s never too serious.
There’s a novelty cover in the form of Careless Whisper, where Lamarr relishes the chance to go all creamy-dreamy with the organ, slippin’ and slidin’ through a laidback groove (again, Khruangbin fans should be on board with at least this one).
Everything feels right (Hole In One) and tight (Call Your Mom) and ready (Fo Sho). So if you’ve not heard them before let this be your entry point then check out the very fine live session and debut studio album. But if you’re already a convert then get ready for the band taking it to the next level. They now sound like the actual embodiment of their heart-on-sleeve influences.
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