Review: Brian Charette “Music For Organ Sextette,” plus Tiny Reviews


Review of Brian Charette Music For Organ Sextette, and Tiny Reviews of Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Philippe le Baraillec, Ferner/Juliusson, and Lola Danza.



Brian Charette – Music For Organ Sextette

Organs have a weighty groove, a density of sound that keeps things close to the earth.  Stick an organ into a jazz ensemble, and typically, it’s gonna force all the other instruments to adhere to its orbit, and the more prominent role the organ has on an album, the fiercer the gravity well other instruments must break from if they wish to take the song to the air.  That the members of Brian Charette‘s sextette are unencumbered to create their own flight path so freely is a big reason for the success of Music For Organ Sextette.  An even bigger reason is that Charette stocked his organ-led ensemble with a range of instruments that provide a wealth of nuance and possibilities for elevation.

Your album personnel:  Brian Charette (Hammond B3 organ), Jay Collins (flute, baritone saxophone, tambourine), Mike DiRubbo (alto & soprano sax), Joel Frahm (tenor sax), John Ellis (bass clarinet), and Jochen Rueckert (drums).

Collins’ flute gives a birds-eye view of the composition from the higher registers, one that Charette’s organ slowly brings to earth and hands off to the earthy voice of Ellis’ bass clarinet.  Frahm clocks in another solid performance; he gets an airiness on tenor that adds an essential element to the album, but also as counterpoint to the tenor sax’s typical robustness.  It may be Rueckert’s rhythmic attack that carries the day, however, providing a driving force tempest that spurs the songs on and giving the sensation of speed even when the ensemble lays back on tempo.  DiRubbo adds fire to Frahm’s flame, and together bring a fullness to the sound, one that Charette lets the organ dance adroitly about.

While several of the tracks do have ample groove to bob the head to, and where others have plenty of swing to boot, tracks like the brooding ramble of “Mode For Sean Wayland” and the gospel-orchestral dual personality of the euphoric “Fugue For Kathleen Anne/ Ex-girlfriend Variations” effectively keep things interesting and nip any chance of predictability from infecting expectations.

In many ways, Charette avoids the easy trappings of just-another-jazz-organ-album, and it’s his ability to finely mesh the varied deviations from the norm that earns him the day.

Released on the SteepleChase Records label.  Jazz from NYC.

I couldn’t find any music to embed here, but Charette’s site lets you stream much of the album HERE.

Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.

Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Other Albums of Interest:


Kenny Wheeler Big Band – The Long Waiting

Modern jazz giant Kenny Wheeler has been influencing jazz for decades.  His talent on trumpet is matched only by his skill at arrangements.  This recording reinforces that reputation, deservedly.  A beautiful album that will give any big band fan their necessary fix.  Among the performers is tenor saxophonist Julian Siegel, who has been involved in several quality albums over the last handful of months.

Stream the album on the CamJazz site (linked just below).

Artist Wikipedia entry.  Released on CamJazz.  Available on eMusic.


Philippe le Baraillec – Involved

Something satisfyingly off-center on this quartet album.  Led by pianist Baraillec, and including sax player Chris Cheek, it’s a set of modern straight-ahead jazz.  Rhythmic cross-currents give a slippery sense of motion to the melodies played over it, and results in a skewed reflection of the compositions.  The kind of music that’s just engaging enough to induce daydreams while listening.

Artist site Link.  Released on Outnote Records.  Available on eMusic.


Per Arne Ferner & Per Gunnar Juliusson – Undertowed

Here’s one for those who like that sparse Nordic ECM sound.  A duo of piano and guitar.  Plenty of minimalism, use of silence, and occasional up-tempo pieces and clashes of dissonance to break the quiet ambiance.  Promising album from this young duo.

Artist site Link.  Released on the NORCD label.  Available on eMusic.


Lola Danza – The Island

Not your everyday type of jazz vocalist, Lola Danza has gone into some avant-folk territory on past releases, and habitually eschews typical jazz vocal instrumentation.  On this recording, she is often backed by two bass players, with guest visits by tenor saxophonist Adam Kolker and trumpet man Phil Grenadier.  A haunting voice that burns pretty on the edges.

Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.

Artist site Link.  Released on Evolver Records.  Available on eMusic.



The Brian Charette review is original to Bird is the Worm.  However, portions of the other reviews were originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic, so here’s some language protecting their rights as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

“New Arrivals Jazz Picks“ and “New Arrivals Jazz Picks“, reprints courtesy of, Inc.
© 2012, Inc.

As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.  Cheers.