Joel Spencer

Interior Window

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Recorded in Chicago over a period running from 1984 to 1988 by some of Chicago's brightest young jazz practitioners, this organ band takes a different direction than most groups of like ilk do. Instead of the usual the R&B/blues groove and/or funk sound, the organ takes on a more dramatic stance in the hands of Mike Kocour, ably supported by drum-meister partner Joel Spencer. "Search for Peace" is a serious, solemn piece of music, where the organ has a major say in the development of the song's theme, building it in concert with the brooding tenor sax of Brad Wheeler. Similarly modern in perspective, the organ forms the foundation for a heavy solo by Wheeler on "Wheeler Dealer." The striking, clean-toned guitar of Akio Sasajima also gets plenty of play here. The music that has been selected by the group is exclusively modern, whether originals by members of the band or jazz pieces by the likes of McCoy Tyner and Bobby Hutcherson. The play list is a pivotal factor in giving this group a contemporary bent to its musical transactions. Kocour reveals roots in the innovative organ techniques and honed sound of Larry Young throughout, but singularly on Woody Shaw's "Beyond All Limits." Spencer comes from that segment of the modern drumming school headed by Elvin Jones, although he is not as intrusive as the great drummer and is willing to assume a subordinate -- albeit still important -- role in relation to the other players. One has to listen carefully to catch the full effect of his contributions, such as on Donald Byrd's "Fancy Free," but they are more up-front on "Where Are They Now." Interior Window is an excellent foray into fresh jazz sounds, and is recommended.

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