Fenemor’s Kiwi Blue – Blues Jam

by | Jul 13, 2017 | Jazz CD Reviews

Fenemor’s Kiwi Blue – Blues Jam Self-Produced, 48:57 ****:

(Adrienne Fenemor – B3 organ, vocals; Marvin Horne – guitar; Brian Floody – drums)

B3 player adds vocals to her repertoire.

The influence of American jazz is global. One of the purely American instrumental genres is the Hammond B3 organ. On the other side of the world, New Zealand native Adrienne Fenemor became a devotee of B3 music. According to her bio, she may be the first B3 player in her country. Studying the recordings of Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes, Joey DeFrancesco and Jack McDuff, Fenemor began performing at festivals in New Zealand and Australia. Inevitably, she moved to the States, and paid her dues playing through the Midwest. Now relocated to New York, she is a regular on the city jazz scene. Her instrumental album, “Mo Puddin’” has steadily climbed the jazz charts.

On Fenemor’s latest release Blues Jam, she has added a new dimension to her impressive B3 licks, vocals. Fronting a classic B3 trio format (Marvin Horne/guitar; Brian Floody/drums), the change in direction is stellar. With a dynamic jazzy agility, a nine-track assortment of covers (and one original composition) showcases the next step in her career trajectory. The opening cut is the iconic blues tune, “Got My Mojo Working”. This was a huge breakthrough for Muddy Waters, but was first recorded by Ann Cole in 1956. Fenemore eases into the vocals with relaxed, assured sentiment. Her first solo on Hammond is full of soulful hooks. Marvin Horne contributes a guitar solo and drummer Brian Floody sparkles on drum fills. The final verse has a n old school call and response on vocals. The soul-tinged resonance continues on a Fenemor original, “Rainy Day Blues” which features a nimble sustain and organ tonal complexity.

Taking on a Billie Holiday song is never easy. Blood Sweat & Tears repurposed “God Bless The Child” on their self-titled album with a brassy update. Fenemor captures the melancholy gospel feel of the Holiday version with Horne adding some Memphis-style licks. Fenemor’s fluid vocals take center stage. “Playin’ With My Friends” has a catchy finger-snapping vibe. Fenemor’s first solo (at 1:36) is fluid and masterful. Horne matches the artistic commitment. “Early In The Morning” (the pop song by Brill Building legends Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) gets a blues shuffle arrangement.

With audacity, Fenemor covers four Ray Charles hits in succession. On the Eddy Arnold-penned country standard, “You Don’t Know Me”, the trio maintain’s the slow-dance nuances, but with a livelier pulse. The Charles homage keeps rolling on the eternal party opus, “Let The Good Times Roll”. Fenemor adopts some of Ray’s vocal phrasing, but in her own musical context. With fluidity and nimble tempo, “Unchain My Heart” has a jaunty resonance that fits the band. “Georgia On my Mind” (written by the American legend, Hoagy Carmichael) is a heavy lift and any recording will be measured by Ray Charles’ epic performance. This one is credible (like many others), but falls a bit short. The finale is a whimsical, gentle-swing arrangement of Jerry Jeff Walker’s folk classic, “Mr. Bojangles”.

Adrienne Fenemor’s Kiwi Blue – Blues Jam is a well-crafted amalgam of organ-based bluesy jazz.The audio quality is very good and the stereo mix is balanced. The vocal levels are subdued and centered . Fenemor is a bona-fide B3 artist. Her U.S. jazz reputation has been building on the East Coast. With this accessible release, she is poised to expand her audience.

Got My Mojo Working
Rainy Day Blues
God Bless The Child
Playin’ With My Friends
Early In The Morning
You Don’t Know Me
Let The Good Times Roll
Unchain My Heart
Georgia On My Mind
Mr. Bojangles

—Robbie Gerson

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