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The Soul Jazz Sessions by Moe Denham

If you haven’t heard much jazz organ music, Moe Denham would be a good place to start. This CD, his fourth release, grooves with his distinctive, self-defined sound of "blazz", which is something like soul jazz combined with the richness of the blues.

The album is mostly jazz and blues classics, with a couple of arrangements by Denham and his group, plus two originals: "Dyna Moe" and "I Still Fell In Love With You". The core group consists of Denham along with Robert Bond on drums and Jamie Nichol on congas. There is also a slew of Nashville’s hottest guitarists that rotate in on the tracks, including John Jorgenson, Billy Joe Walker, Jr., Brent Mason, David Hungate, Johnny Hiland, Bryan Sutton, Al Anderson and steel-guitarist Paul Franklin. Each of these artists brings their own style to the group, but it’s Denham that keeps the grooves coming.

The album starts off funky with "Filthy McNasty," a cool, bluesy tune with a danceable beat. The congas add a lot to the introduction especially. Denham plays a solo and then lets Paul Franklin and David Hungate fight it out on their guitars. Denham sings vocals on his tune "I Still Fell In Love With You," which is reminiscent of some swing dancing charts with its sharp pops and hits. Probably the most impressive piece on the album, however, is Denham’s interpretation of the classic "Autumn Leaves." He begins with an ethereal, melancholic opening solo, using his organ to set a rich, warm tone for the rest of the song. The drums, conga and guitar then come in on the melody, and Denham plays another poignant solo.

Another awesome track is the arrangement of "Song for My Father" and "Eleanor Rigby." The two melodies are played separately at times and other times are melded into a unique new sound. Denham probably plays his best solo of the album over these changes, dipping into harmonic minor melodies. There are a couple of brief tempo changes as well, just to keep things interesting. The interpretation of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" is also well done. The drums and congas lay down a slow, almost reggae-feeling groove over which Denham plays the melody. He makes good use of scale patterns in his solo here as well.

Not only are the grooves solid and well felt, but the unique sound of the organ fits perfectly into these interpretations. The blending between guitar and organ is amazing, and musicianship is exceptional. Every chart makes you want to get up and dance, and you may find yourself tapping your toe without realizing it. Overall, this album is a blast to listen to.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Moe Denham
  • CD Title: The Soul Jazz Sessions
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Thortch Recordings
  • Rating: Five Stars
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