Ehud Asherie – Organic – Posi-Tone Records PR 8071, 43:11 ***½:
(Ehud Asherie, Hammond B-3 organ; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Dmitry Baevsky, alto sax; Phil Stewart, drums)
There has been a pleasant trend for lovers of the Hammond B-3 organ. It is the resurgence in the popularity of this groove machine. Pianists are turning to the Hammond B-3 to open up their repertoire to explore the funky side of town. The trend seemed to start at around the time that Mike LeDonne began his weekly sessions at New York City clubs, primarily Smoke.
For Israeli pianist Ehud Asherie, who records for Posi-Tone, he chose his fourth recording for the label to make a Hammond B-3 session. Who better than Peter Bernstein (in my opinion the first choice for guitar on a Hammond date) to add to the mix to set yourself in the right direction. Also adding an alto sax to the quartet is a smart move as the sax broadens the spice quotient and the young Russian saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky, who has recorded for Sharp 9, is an up and comer, who plays well beyond his years.
Ehud has chosen of mix of standards by Leonard Bernstein, Sonny Rollins, and Jobim, as well as four originals to explore. “Tonight”, among the most recognizable Bernstein compositions gets the Hammond treatment and Ehud has a light touch here unlike you’ll find with a more percussive reading of a Dr. Lonnie Smith. Bernstein’s guitar lines are as classy, concise, and swinging as ever. Peter brings his “A” game always. Dmitry swings easily fitting in with Ehud and Peter.
“Valse Pra Jelena” features Peter Bernstein in a lead role and as usual his clean lines are exemplary. “The Stopper” from Sonny Rollins shows Dmitry’s bop chops and Ehud ups the tempo with some lightning fast runs to keep pace. Stewart has a featured solo where he uses his entire drum kit, with the cymbals highlighted. Gus Kahn and Johnny Green’s “Coquette” has a long history going back to the 1940s and has been covered by artists ranging from Django to Armstrong and Bix, and Ehud and company give it a sweet reading relatively straight ahead so its melody is completely recognizable. It’s quite lovely.
Ehud’s “It’s Possible” shows he knows the Hammond’s strengths in setting a funky vibe for the guitar and drums to embellish. Jobim’s “Favela” will get your head into a nod while your toes dance. “Apostrophe” provides an opportunity for Baevsky and Asherie to play off each other like you’ll find in the best sax/ Hammond moments. “Blues for Fats” closes out Organic and I’m betting it’s written to honor Fats Waller as the Hammond’s tone changes to a 30s to 40s organ without the vibrato of the 50s thru 70s for which this groove machine is better known.
Add Ehud Asherie to the list of Hammond B-3 players that B-3 aficionados can trust to keep faith with prior Hammond legends. You will not be disappointed.
TrackList: Tonight, Valse Pra Jelena, The Stopper, Coquette, It’s Possible, Favela, Apostrophe, Blues for Fats
— Jeff Krow