By Brian Morton | Published June 2021
Brian Charette long ago overturned expectations that the organ belonged only in greasy, soul-jazz contexts. Charette has cheerfully bucked tradition, while still holding it in considerable respect.
He can groove with the best, but was after a new sound, that of a wind-driven chamber group providing layered, subtle backgrounds for the organ’s improvised lines.
On Power From The Air, the best illustration comes on what is arguably the hokiest choice of the set: The old groaner “Cherokee,” reinvented with a brilliant Charette line skating across the ensemble winds. Other tracks, like “Fried Birds” and “Elephant Memory,” pick up on the mercurial style-switching that has become Charette’s calling card.
He uses dissonance with immense intelligence, holding a line against the accompaniment until it seems sure that he’s losing his way, only to bring it back in perfectly on cue. Alternating single-note lines with ambiguous clusters allows him to make full use of the instrument’s technical range, but he never sounds like he’s merely pulling knobs and wrangling Leslies. It’s masculine without being masculinist and macho, and even in this day and age, that’s a pretty good thing.
Power From The Air: Fried Birds; As If To Say; Harlem Nocturne; Silver Lining; Elephant Memory; Power From The Air; Cherokee; Want; Frenzy; Low Tide. (56:40)
Personnel: Brian Charette, organ; Mike DiRubbo, alto saxophone; Kenny Brooks, tenor saxophone; Itai Kriss, flute; Karel Ruzicka, bass clarinet; Brian Fishler, drums.
Ordering Info: steeplechase.dk