Vol. 1: Spirit

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The Hammond organ hasn't often been used for truly out jazz -- most of the time, players deploy it in the service of soul- and gospel-based grooves. Sure, Larry Young got somewhat psychedelic on the instrument toward the end of his career in the early '70s, but players like Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Big John Patton, hard groovers all, are much more within the tradition. Well, Decoy -- a trio composed of organist Alexander Hawkins, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Steve Noble -- are taking the Hammond all the way out. Edwards and Noble are a well-established team in U.K. avant-garde jazz/improv circles, having backed guitarists Derek Bailey and Steve Noble, saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, and many other similarly unfettered players throughout the years. The organ, being both an electric and a chordal instrument, has some limitations that the saxophone lacks, but Hawkins is capable of creating both a powerful roar and a delicate hum with equal ease. On the opening cut, "Outside In," he quickly establishes just how free and noisy things may get, but on the short "Who's Who" that follows, Edwards and Noble set up a hard-swinging groove over which he plays remarkably straight blues. But when "Decoy" starts, he moves to the instrument's lower end, creating a left-hand rumble that'll move books off the listener's shelves as Edwards bows the bass and Noble rattles his cymbals and snare like a machine gun far off in the distance, blasting away at a tin shed. This is a far from one-dimensional group, and the musicians' interactions head in different directions on almost every track. With only three instruments, they create a multitude of worlds for the listener to get lost in. Impressive, visceral stuff.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick