Jermaine Landsberger and Paulo Morello – Hammond Eggs – In + Out IOR CD77087-2, 55:43 ****:
(Jermaine Landsberger – Hammond organ B-3, co-producer; Paulo Morello – guitar, co-producer; Peter Weniger – tenor saxophone; Dejan Terzic – drums)
On Hammond Eggs, Hammond B-3 organist Jermaine Landsberger and guitarist Paulo Morello – who have wanted to work together since living in the same small Bavarian village in the 1990s – evoke the archetypal era of organ jazz right down to the kind of punned record title common in the 1960s. For anyone ready to partake of classic grooves, these ten tracks will satisfy any listeners’ appetites. Like every first-rate repast, Hammond Eggs offers more than straightforward fare. Landsberger comes from a Sinti (gypsy) lineage and guitarist Django Reinhardt was his first major influence. That side of Landsberger’s personality comes across in the album dedication to underrated gypsy guitarist Kosta Lukacs with Landsberger covering two of Lukacs’ compositions. Then there are guitarist Paulo Morello’s contributions: he is a leading light in the German jazz scene and likes to season his performances with Brazilian flavoring. These and other elements make Hammond Eggs a nourishing feast for jazz fans.
The menu runs from subtly spicy (Lukacs’ ballad “Latin Movin’”) to smooth as wine (tender tone poem “Bright Sky”). Assisting on the 55-minute culinary excursion is tenor saxophonist Peter Weniger – who has shared studios or stages with Eddie Palmieri, Billy Cobham and Dave Liebman – and drummer Dejan Terzic, who has worked with Lee Konitz, Roy Hargrove and others.
The sense of taking something familiar and refashioning it the way a chef might change up everyday dishes is heard on Landsberger’s upbeat “Gypsy Steps,” a bop piece based on the chords of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.” Weniger, Morello and Landsberger stake out terrific unison moments where guitarist, saxist and organist complement and push each other in ever escalating measures. Another fine example of using traditional material to craft something distinctive is the slowly boiling passion given to Tadd Dameron’s timeless tune, “If You Could See Me Now,” which denotes a sensual, after-midnight mood established by inspired keyboard and six-string solos.
Morello and Landsberger’s originals heighten the overall up-tempo meaty mannerism. Landsberger’s title track is an appealing 12-bar blues accented by Terzic’s New Orleans-styled rhythmic shuffle. If it sounds like a late-night jam session captured on tape, that’s it exactly. Morello explains in the liner notes, “This was…created spontaneously. Jermaine came up with a line, I added a second voice to it, and that was it.” Morello’s support is worth mentioning, especially his resourceful and eloquent solo that interchanges single note parts with chords. “Remembering Jimmy” is Morello’s 24-bar blues tribute to Hammond B-3 organist supreme, Jimmy Smith, whom Morello performed with during Smith’s final European tour in 2004. The funky number is magic: Weniger is out front first with a soulful sassy solo that calls to mind Hank Crawford’s grits-and-gravy tone. Morello is up next with a lengthy and tasty solo that at times echoes Pat Martino, who also spent time with Smith. Landsberger then follows suit with an improvisational inclination that Smith would probably have enjoyed and marks Landsberger as a top exponent of B-3-inclined soul-jazz.
1. Hammond Eggs
2. Latin Movin’
3. Gypsy Steps
4. Song for My Little Daughter
5. Remembering Jimmy
6. If You Could See Me Now
7. Space Blues
8. Bright Sky
9. Alone Together
10. Batida Diferente
— Doug Simpson