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Jake Mason Trio – The Stranger In The Mirror – Soul Messin’ Records SMRCD-0118, 52:49 ****1/2:

(Jake Mason – organ; Danny Fischer – drums; James Sherlock – guitar)

If organ trios are known for cohesive, soulful resonance, then the new album by the Jake Mason Trio (The Stranger In The Mirror) will hit that mark…and then some. The opening track, “The Grain Store” gets off to a rousing start with a drum downbeat and guitar hook that is blissfully soulful. At just over the one-minute time, Mason injects a colorful, rhythmic solo with attitude, funk and agility. James Sherlock’s run is bluesy and hook-driven. The smooth fade at the end is supple. There is a distinct shift on the title cut with a hypnotic drum and modern film-worthy texture. The melody could be a backdrop for a noir private eye story. The echo-laden guitar is evocative. Mason’s restrained organ is folded into the layered approach. Just as suddenly, the trio explodes with hard-driving swing on “Rib Eye”. There is a brief tempo shift before Mason returns with fiery intensity. Danny Fischer’s drumming is magnetic ( he has a great solo) and the addition of a high-flying muscular tenor saxophone (Paul Williamson) adds another dimension to the jam.

Embracing a funkier, gospel feel, the “quartet” exudes a slow-burning intensity on “Please Please Please”. With a Memphis groove underneath, Sherlock and Williamson (baritone) exert soul credentials with flair. In a completely different arrangement, People Two & One” displays a spacey “prog-rock” vibe, shaded by Mason’s sustained ethereal notation and Sherlock’s Pink Floyd-esque imagery. Mason’s solo floats in the air with harmonic integrity. The band mixes innovation, but still maintains an occasional familiarity. “Smile Awhile” has a lilting sauciness with an organ/guitar call and response. Fischer and Mason each demonstrate fluency in their runs. As Fischer percolates, a samba dynamic is established. Mason’s gliding organ bristles with precision and festive ambiance. Another rousing solo by Fischer is sandwiched between guitar leads.In a 3/4 time signature, “Sunfall” distills musical coherence with a gentler swing aesthetic. Mason’s adroit organ captures the wistful elegance of this number. Back on the funk train, “Lemon Twist” is finger-snapping catchy and the organ solo glows with soul-infused warmth. On the finale, “Candy Smack”, the reunited quartet picks up the tempo. It is a raucous jam with Sherlock intermingling rhythm counterpoint to Mason’s sparkling lead. The guitarist gets to showcase his raucous blues/jazz style as well. It is a fitting climax to a potent album.  (Available Digitally, as CD, or on Vinyl!)

Jake Mason TrioThe Stranger In The Mirror is accessible, fresh…and great jazz!   

TrackList:
The Grain Store
The Stranger In The Mirror
Rib Eye
Please Please Please
People Two &amp
One
Smile Awhile
Butter Melt
Sunfall
Lemon Twist
Candy Smack

—Robbie Gerson

 

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