Chester Thompson ‘Powerhouse’ (Black Jazz/Snow Dog) 3/5

Hammond B3 organist Chester Thompson is especially well known for his part as a member of cult funk band Tower of Power with whom he played for a decade and then for an extended twenty plus year sojourn as part of the Santana band. However, he did cut an album as leader for Black Jazz and this fits very much into the later 1960s/early 1970s soul jazz bag with a slightly harder edge in places. In this endeavour he is ably assisted by saxophonist Rudy Johnson who has taken inspiration from the John Coltrane school of tenor playing, trombonist Al Hall Jr and Ray Pounds on the drums. One of the strongest instrumentals is the catchy groover ‘Weird Harold’ which is the kind of track you might have found on a late 1960s Blue Note or Prestige album and there is some fine collective brass work here. Altogether heavier in approach is the title track where Thompson comes across as a Larry Young acolyte and the attractive and slightly ominous sounding main theme is followed by a blistering tenor solo from Johnson. Back in a mid-tempo vein, ‘Trip One’ is a slow burner of a tune with some lovely hammond licks from the leader and Johnson once more taking centre stage. Ideally, one would like to hear more of Chester Thompson the soloist for he possesses a soulful technique on the hammond B3 and sometimes has a tendency to be content with a merely supportive role.

Tim Stenhouse