(Pat Bianchi, Hammond B-3 organ; Mark Whitfield, guitar; Byron Landham, drums)
Pat Bianchi is not a household name for Hammond B-3 fans. Yet. With his 2006 Jazzed Media release, East Coast Roots, the 30 year old Bianchi will not remain just a Colorado known entity for long. For Bianchi has paid his dues, studying at the Eastman School of Music and graduating from Berklee in 1998. He settled in Denver playing as a keyboardist for national names passing thru town. Then he made the requisite New York City pilgrimage in 2002, and also had gigs in Europe both as a leader and sideman. He has re-settled in Denver and now teaches part time at the University of Colorado.
For this Jazzed Media release he works with Hammond band veterans, Mark Whitfield and Byron Landham. Whitfield played regularly with Jimmy Smith and Landham has been Joey DeFrancesco’s drummer for nearly 20 years. East Coast Roots is made up of six session tracks and two live tracks, Theme for Ernie and Nobody Else But Me.
Bianchi’s choice of studio tracks is top drawer as they feature compositions by jazz royalty- Bobby Hutcherson, John Coltrane, Jimmy Heath, Ernie Wilkins, and Bill Evans. The opening track, Silver Trane, likely dedicated to Coltrane, does not bring John to mind, but swings hard and features Landham’s powerful drumming. Hutcherson’s Little B’s Poem calms down the mood and Pat’s Hammond shows its gentle side, but picks up the pace by the middle choruses. Whitfield shows his mastery of jazz guitar here with fleet runs.
Coltrane’s Straight Street is an exercise in the building up of pace before relaxing in intensity just as the track ends. Jimmy Heath’s Gingerbread Boy is another feature for for Whitfield, whose deftness is rapid fire before Bianchi steps in for a fast keyboard run of his own. Theme for Ernie is done live at Denver’s Dazzle club and has a gospel feel. Other winners include Ernie Wilkins’ Dizzy Business, in which Bianchi and Whitfield battle it out.
Bill Evans’ Turn Out the Stars is a lovely low key guitar/organ blend and the CD concludes with a live version of Nobody Else But Me, the longest number on the CD, and proof of Bianchi’s full fledged Hammond abilities. You can add Pat Bianchi to the suddenly growing list of young Hammond B-3 phenoms.
Tracklist: Silver Trane, Little B’s Poem, Straight Street, Gingerbread Boy, Theme for Ernie (live), Dizzy’s Business, Turn Out the Stars, Nobody Else But Me (live)
– Jeff Krow