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Guitar International - June 2010

ORGANISSIMO - Alive and Kickin’!
Dr. Matt Warnock

Alive & Kickin’ is a killin’ new album from Michigan based trio Organissimo. The trio of Jim Alfredson organ, Joe Gloss guitar and Randy Marsh drums, is in fine form on this, their first, live album. Featuring eight original compositions from the group’s catalogue, alongside one cover of the Frank Zappa classic “Blessed Relief,” this album is filled with hard grooves, inventive solos and deep levels of ensemble interaction. Melding the intellectual side of jazz with the danceable side of organ-trio funk, Alive & Kickin’ will have you up on your feet dancing, while containing enough melodic material to keep even the most dedicated student of jazz busy for a long, long time.

If one were to look up the term “tight” in the dictionary there would be an Organissimo album cover next to the word. These guys play together with a level of interaction that borders on E.S.P, producing some intense moments of rhythmic and harmonic interaction. An interaction that can be heard in the melody sections of such songs as the Latin tinged “Señor Buffet,” or the funkified “Clap Yo’ Hands.” Both featuring the solid melodic connection shared between Alfredson and Gloss, a connection that could only have been built from years on the bandstand.

Stickman Marsh, the group’s elder statesman, is also at the top of his game. Whether it’s a hard-swinger, on the group’s tip of the hat to organ legend Jimmy Smith, “Jimmy Smith Goes to Washington,” or the bump and grind, slow funk groove of “If Not Now, When?,” Marsh is a fountain of creativity. His fills are energetic and he’s so deep in the pocket he’s finding spare change. This guy can groove, hard, really hard.

As a guitarist Gloss is hard to define. He’s an intellectual jazzer, “Jimmy Smith Goes to Washington,” a funked-up groover, “Groovadelphia” and everything in between. Having a diverse background, and a chameleon like tone, allows him to wear many hats, often within the context of a single track. Regardless of what style or genre he’s channeling in his comping and soloing, one thing always remains the same, a strong dedication to the groove and barrels of creativity from which he draws upon.

Gloss seems to be able to take a single chord voicing and turn it into a symphony when backing one of Alfredson’s epic solos, then he turns on a switch and provides layer after layer of harmonic complexity during his solo on the same tune. With his creative depth and harmonic knowledge it’s no wonder that Michigan State University recently brought him on board as their jazz guitar teacher.

If you’re a fan of the funk-jazz or organ-trio genres do yourself a favor and check this album out. Filled with infectious grooves, memorable melodies and killin’ solos, Alive & Kickin’ would be a welcomed addition to any music fans library.