By Ammar Kalia | Published February 2021
There is something undeniably funky about the organ. Its unwavering sustain and percussive potential has led the likes of Jimmy Smith and Booker T. Jones—and more recently Cory Henry—to its keys for deep-swinging compositions. Delvon Lamarr is the latest in this line of formidable players, turning to the mercurial instrument to channel the sounds of Stax, Motown and the blues through its tonewheel.
For his second album with the trio, I Told You So, Lamarr digs deep for a collection of nine inescapably joyous and in-the-pocket numbers. Opener “Hole In One” sets the tone with its rhythmic interlacing of Jimmy James’ high-register guitar with Grant Schroff’s pinpoint-precise drumming, while Lamarr’s own playing meanders from an interlocking left-hand bass to a sweeping, open right hand full of melody.
Despite the record presenting as a relatively straightforward affair, subtle chameleonic elements emerge. On “Aces,” James channels Hendrix-style distortion during a roaring solo, while Schroff provides an impeccable Bernard Purdie-esque drum break. And for a cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” Lamarr’s organ pad provides an unexpected backing, reframing the melody with ambient texture.
I Told You So is not a daring, experimental work, yet faultlessly achieves what it sets out to do. Lamarr harnesses the power of his instrument to provide an album of new jazz-funk standards, an exuberant celebration of three musicians working at the height of their powers.
I Told You So: Hole In One; Call Your Mom; Girly Face; From The Streets; Fo Sho; Aces; Careless Whisper; Right Place, Right Time; I Don’t Know. (41:26)
Personnel: Delvon Lamarr, organ; Jimmy James, Ben Bloom (8), guitar; Grant Schroff, drums.