Pat Bianchi

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Organist Pat Bianchi's turn to be in the spotlight as a premier player on his instrument is long overdue, and with the release of Back Home, it's clear his time has finally come. Since the 2006 issue of his album East Coast Roots on the Jazzed Media label and his estimable work with guitarist Corey Christiansen, Bianchi's star has been steadily rising, but now he's reached his zenith. Playing with two different groups, Bianchi transcends soul-jazz by playing the C-3 (church) organ, choosing heady progressive material, and showing his acumen on his instrument similar to peer Larry Goldings (see the Goldings masterpiece Sweet Science). With his "A" group -- the very energetic sidemen of drummer Ralph Peterson, tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, and trumpeter Terell Stafford -- alongside, Bianchi whips out compositions not necessarily thought of as vehicles for organ, evidence including the super-fast and tricky Ornette Coleman post-bop piece "Blues Connotation" and Chick Corea's 6/8 groove and bop track "Litha," which came directly from fusion originally with electric piano. The "B" trio with drummer Carmen Intorre and guitarist Gilad Hekselman also tackles difficult music -- John Coltrane's "Fifth House" (and an additional shorter alternate take) challenges rhythmic parameters in a modal sense while Bianchi goes off à la Larry Young. But where Bianchi's three pieces also explore a mellower sound during ballads and blues, it is his deeply hued style on the C-3 that identifies a new approach to playing modern jazz. What Bianchi is doing is very nearly innovative, and this should only be the tip of the iceberg.

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