The Skinny – Dig On It – Tippin’ Records TP1111, 53:58 [10/9/12] ****:
(Kyle Asche – guitar; Ben Paterson Hammond B-3; Jake Vinsel – electric bass; Mike Schlich – drums)
The dictionary of slang defines the skinny as “inside information” as in “is that the straight dope?” The musical collective known as The Skinny seems to have found its version of this definition with their debut release entitled Dig On It.
Harking back to the soul-jazz styling of Jimmy McGriff and Grant Green among others, these Chicago-based musicians have brought their “A” game to a fifteen-track set of mostly originals from various members of the band, along with several covers from the soul-jazz era. The band starts out with a sly opener from bassist Jake Vinsel entitled “Slim’s Walk”, and then segues into Jimmy McGriff’s funky title track “Dig On It” with organist Paterson showing his chops. Starting out originally as a pianist, Paterson built his reputation in the Chicago jazz clubs, as well as being the pianist for hard-bop legend tenor-man Von Freeman, who died of heart failure on August 11, 2012.
When the record producer and the musicians (one and the same on this project) get together to discuss the set list, it probably makes sense to include as many original compositions on the album as possible to avoid recording and royalty payments to unaffiliated third parties. However, sometimes, choosing economics over artistic merit proves to be false economy. While some of the original music is well out of the ordinary including Vinsel’s cheerful “The Slidedown” and Paterson’s own exciting tour de force “Long Division”, most of the other originals by the band members simply fill the space between the covers. And on that material, the band really seems to find its groove. For example on Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”, Paterson’s organ shines with his expressive imagination. And two items written by Kool & The Gang,” Give it Up” and “ Sea Of Tranquility” show the versatility of the band, with guitarist Asche leading the way on the former and on the latter organist Paterson demonstrates his cool temperament.
All in all an auspicious recording debut by this band.
TrackList: Slim’s Walk; Dig On it; The Slidedown; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Give It Up; Chris Cross; In The Garden; Holding; Juliboots; Booher; Long Division; Wings Of Gold; Osa; J-Roch; Sea Of Tranquility
A grand goodbye to a jazz giant.