From the first notes of “Urban Dilemma” I knew that I was in for a treat and hopefully you will be too. American saxophonist Anderson is a new name to me, but this is his second album as leader. This is a beguiling take on modern jazz with a Blues inflection. It just goes to show that to be enjoyable, jazz today doesn’t always have to be clever, thrusting and innovative.
For me, it’s almost impossible to beat the combination of a hot tenor or soprano saxophone in tandem with the sound of the Hammond B3 organ. The organ takes centre stage throughout the recording.
We have organist Jimmy Smith to thank for bringing the B3 to wider prominence in the 1950’s, recording a number of memorable sessions for Blue Note Records. He eschewed a bass player and played all of the bass parts himself, generally using a walking bassline on the pedals, in combination with percussive left hand chords. This time-honoured practice is adopted here too.
Anderson’s band-mates are also new to me. Pat Bianchi on organ, Tom Guarna on guitar, and Matt Wilson at the drums all acquit themselves in exemplary fashion.
Now to the music. “22 Doors” has a lovely groove to it with fine, meaty tenor saxophone from the leader along with some tasty guitar from Guarna. The standout track for me is the bop inspired and bluesy “12-Step Blues” with more full bodied tenor sax from Anderson.
Just to prove that they can do mellow too try the bossa-nova inflected “Parallel Present” with tenor and guitar taking the theme in unison. Alternatively, try “Stuck” where a sultry soprano sax come to the fore in a wonderful ballad performance.
The title track is dedicated to another organ master – Joey DeFrancesco and is in easy swing tempo and a pure delight for the ears.
This is original, straight-ahead modern mainstream jazz with a strong vein of the Blues running through it and none the worse for that.