B-3 trio plus classic Beatles compositions – a winning combination …

Organissimo – B3tles: A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four – Big O  2424, 67:51 ****1/2:

(Jim Alfredson – Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, electric piano/synthesizers; Lawrence Barris – guitar; Randy Marsh – drums, harmonica (#9); Bill Vits – percussion (#1, 3, 5, 9, 12); Mike List – tabla (#12) )

For lovers of the Hammond organ, and soul jazz, it is a very short journey to get excited about a project bringing the Hammond to re-interpret classic Beatles compositions with organ and guitar improvisation. Changing “All You Need is Love” to 5/4 time or “Taxman” to 7/4 sounds about right when the vibe is soulful. (Adding a tenor sax to the mix would have been perfection, but who’s complaining when the trio is expanded to a quintet including tabla on George Harrison’s “Within You Without You.”)

Choosing twelve tracks from the Beatles songbook might have been the hardest choice for band leader organist, Jim Alfredson, who also recorded, mixed, and mastered the project.

“Taxman” kicks off the tribute with the familiar melody immediately upfront in the mix before Alfredson adds a little grease, and we’re only missing dancers on risers pumping their arms in ecstasy. “And I Love Her” has a gentle ballad groove led by guitarist Lawrence Barris. It’s a late night slow dance holding your girl tightly.

“All You Need is Love” is another trip down memory lane while “Can’t Buy Me Love” digs deeper into soul jazz territory bringing Dr. Lonnie Smith to mind. Jim Alfredson and Lawrence Barris blend the blues into this well known early Lennon/McCartney song.

“Dear Prudence” gets a dreamy reading that made me think of a Grateful Dead jam heavy on guitar and percolating organ. “The Long and Winding Road” is a feature for Barris’ guitar and his tasty licks bring reflection, as well as appreciation for the Beatles’ way with sweet melody. Alfredson ups the energy mid track back to soul jazz before Barris again steps in with the refrain. Barris again shines on Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” making us miss George’s talent even more. Alfredson’s solo mid track is very affecting as well. The tabla and percussion on the closer, “Within You Without You” from Sgt. Pepper, is a nice touch, branching off in an appreciated new direction, both psychedelic and spiritual.

This is a great CD, well thought-out, soulful, and tasty, a treat for both Beatles fans as well as those who can’t get enough of Hammond B-3 soul jazz. Special mention should be made of the cover art done by Dennis Preston, a loving tribute to the Beatles Revolver album. Bravo…

This CD is available through:  www.big-o-records.com

TrackList: Taxman, Dig a Pony, And I Love Her, All You Need is Love, Can’t Buy Me Love, I Will, Dear Prudence, Come Together, The Long and Winding Road, If I Fell, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Within You Without You

—Jeff Krow