By Herb Boyd | Published February 2020
There was a time in the late ’50s and early ’60s when urban nightclubs were suffused with the sounds of organ trios. That tradition gets a nostalgic turn with Blicher Hemmer Gadd’s Get That Motor Runnin’. Drummer Steve Gadd, organist Dan Hemmer and saxophonist Michael Blicher might not be exemplars of the organ trio, but the sound they create embodies familiar, hard-driving r&b elements.
The trio rips into the title track with a heavy-foot on the pedal, Gadd drumming like a speedy 1954 Mercury Monterey, windows down and a breeze whipping by. On “Mr. T,” there’s no deceleration, and Hemmer and Blicher know how to tuck into the groove alongside Gadd’s feverish pace.
Only when the drummer shuffles the trio into “Samba De Menino” and “The First One To Know” (with vocals by Paul Carrack) is the gut-bucket, in-the-pocket tempo given a rest. Like the title tune, “Roll” has all the ingredients of a gritty, roadside joint, and Hemmer’s organ captures the dynamics of a science experiment that at any moment might explode.
Get That Motor Runnin’ is the trio’s third album, and the soul, funk and a tinge of gospel is freshly revisited without losing any of the energy once exemplified by Ray Charles or James Brown.
Overall, it’s a rollicking trip down memory lane and through the smoky corridors of soul-jazz that’s increasingly a thing of the past. It’s by no means a jaded journey, but one remembered with sweaty nuance to its bounce. Yes, it’s a blast from the past, but garnished with a modernity that makes it less a retreat and more an advance.
Get That Motor Runnin’: Get That Motor Runnin’; Mr. T; The Moment She Falls Asleep; Samba De Menino; The First One To Know; Roll. (33:06)
Personnel: Steve Gadd, drums; Dan Hemmer, organ; Michael Blicher, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Paul Carrack, vocals.