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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Outlaw Tractor

Origin 82562



1. Down Time
2. Carefree
3. When You Want
4. Starstepper
5. Outlaw Tractor
6. Big Kids
7. The Penguins Deserve Better

Corey Christiansen - Guitar
David Halliday - Tenor sax
Pat Bianchi - Organ
Matt Jorgensen - Drums


The technical standards achieved by many jazz musicians can be astounding. One keeps coming across musicians who seem to be able to play anything. Perhaps it is the effect of the jazz courses which many colleges run nowadays but, whatever the reason, technique has certainly moved forward in recent decades. This sometimes has the adverse effect of producing musicians who can play a hundred notes a second but without any feeling. This accusation cannot be levelled at the four jazzmen on this CD, who all perform with ardour as well as skill.

In some ways the quartet harks back to an earlier era, when jazz-rock had broadened the jazz vocabulary, and the line-up is a versatile mix of the two kinds of organ trios: with sax and drums or with guitar and drums. The music is funky and catchy, with all seven tunes composed by Corey Christiansen himself. The opening Down Time is a good example of the way that the tracks are constructed so as to maintain our interest. The Hammond organ starts out of tempo to whet our appetites, then the guitar comes in to increase the funk factor preparatory to guitar and sax harmonising attractively.

Corey doesn't hog the limelight but gives equal solo space to his colleagues. David Halliday is a saxist capable of playing gruffly or smoothly. Christiansen plays with clarity - much of the time in spacious single lines , interspersed with occasional chords. Pat Bianchi is a mellow organist who keeps the rhythm moving with the bass pedals and never swamps the ensemble. His dexterity is a match for such top organists as Joey DeFrancesco.

Carefree is a delightful jazz waltz, with some precise drum breaks from Matt Jorgensen. When You Want is a bluesy outing introduced by attention-grabbing saxophone, and there are spacious solos from the guitarist and the fleet-fingered organist. In its unstoppable forward movement, Starstepper reminds me of some early George Benson recordings. The weirdly-named title-track has a boogaloo beat which might sound old-fashioned without the group's enthusiastically modern take on the style. Big Kids is a fast-moving riff which illustrates how this quartet is grounded in the blues. The closing The Penguins Deserve Better adds a taste of rock music to the soulful funk, with guitar and sax conversing in friendly question-and-answer.

One might complain that the album lasts for only 50 minutes, which is fairly sparing for these days of CDs which last for 70 minutes or more. But the album is produced with enviably clear sound and the playing throughout is masterly, so I'm not complaining.

Tony Augarde

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