An organ trio comprised of players with day jobs, so to speak, Java Man provides an upbeat twist to the organ trio format. Their third album finds the musicians taking time off from other projects, including Craig Wagner (guitar) and Ray Rizzo of rock darlings Days of the New. Todd Hildreth, who has collaborated with banjo oddball Eugene Chadbourne among others, essentially fronts this trio. Though there are no vocals or gimmicky conceits, there is a sense of fun that pervades the trio's melodic wanderings, without the heavy-handed grooving that weighs down many modern-day organ-based bands. A lot of this has to do with Wagner's guitar playing, which flickers and dances in the upper registers, staying close to traditional jazz scales and feels, but finding its own voice through inventive phrasing. On songs like "Dark Ride," Hildreth and Rizzo build the improvisation meticulously before playing a cresting game of cat and mouse at the peak of the jam. Creative songwriting (the ethereal "Tsunami," for example) keeps this from falling into standard trio traps.
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AllMusic Review by Jesse Jarnow