The Rattle label continues to defy the odds, making quality product (actual CDs, lovely covers, liner notes, packaging and production – never ‘just’ the music) and shining a light. Jazz, Maori music, contemporary classic – call it “art” music if you want a catch-all maybe, I like to think of the boutique Kiwi imprint as delivering consistently great music. An embarrassment of riches is their catalogue.
Released in 2018 but recorded in 2016 this is the result, as drummer Ron Samsom explains well enough in the liners here, of Hammond organist Michel Benebig managing to track down a legendary American jazz guitarist, Carl Lockett. If you don’t know him by name but you do know jazz there’s a mighty fine chance you’ve heard him – an expert rhythm player with the taste and technique to let rip just every so often with a mighty fine lead line or solo – he’s played with the great Jimmy Smith among others; helping to establish the role of the guitarist-as-accompanist in an organ-led small-combo environment.
So Samson, Benebig and the brilliant saxophonist Roger Manins set up some dates with Lockett and, as the title tells us, they rode the shuffle groove hard. Completing these recordings across two days in May and one later session in late-October in the year 2016.
These are fluid soloists, and they form a wonderful band – each knowing the place of the music, their instrument and working together always. Sometimes Manins and Lockett take turns at stating the main aim of the tune, other time its Benebig doing the leading – always Samsom is driving that bass drum and ride-cymbal hard. Denting the tune with perfect punctation.
It’s a lively affair – eight original tunes that pay tribute to jazz greats (Blackwell) that speak to the frivolity and good nature of these recordings (Gout Foot Shuffle, BB Gun, Dog Funk Walking) and that burst from the speakers.
Yes, you could have this on the background as soundtrack to a swanky cocktail affair; the musicians here would have been hired to provide a live version of exactly that so many times after all. But really this is music to turn up as you turn down almost anything else. A chance to stay in – with the stereo. With the pulse of this mighty fine soul-jazz, these grooves.
Bask in this. It’s super fun and super fine playing.
So heartily recommended.
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