Tony Kofi and The Organisation ‘Point Blank’ CD (The Last Music Company) 4/5

The origins of The Organisation go back over a decade now, growing initially from guitarist Simon Fernsby’s memorable Manhattan Project sessions, which were a staple of jazz in South London throughout the 2000’s. Drummer Pete Cater was an early recruit and the band went through several incarnations, finally coming into its own with the addition of organist Pete Whittaker as they went on to hone a no-nonsense, hard-hitting style as a house rhythm section for multiple venues and festivals.

Recorded in 2017 by Paul Riley, the retro sound of Point Blank harks back to the sound and feel of the 70’s. “I don’t think I set out to create a retro concept” says saxophonist Kofi, “But it’s mostly what I hear in my head and also because I grew up in the 1970’s, the music of that era which I love is deeply rooted within my musical ear.”

The quartet on this recording; Tony Kofi on baritone sax, Pete Whittaker on organ, Pete Cater on drums and Simon Fernsby on guitar, combine the bluesy-soul-jazz side of the Hammond cannon, with their knowledge of the more modern post-bop side of the repertoire, all of which works very well with Kofi’s intuitive baritone sax playing.

The album’s title “Point Blank” was inspired by John Boorman’s classic 1967 movie of the same name, which starred Lee Marvin in one of his most memorable screen roles. And if the movie ever gets remade, Point Blank the album would make an apt soundtrack.

This ten track album features tunes by McCoy Tyner, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Woody Shaw, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Bobby Gentry, Henry Mancini, Pepper Adams and Duke Pearson. The deep grooves from Whittaker’s thick, bluesy keys are offset in style by Kofi’s growling, sparkling baritone playing. Fernsby’s guitar playing is skilful and supportive, whilst Cater’s drumming prowess keeps the whole thing ticking over very nicely indeed. It’s fun, it’s funky and it’s full of flavour. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but a mighty fine musical romp nonetheless.

It’s easy to hear why this band sound great in a live setting, and there’s plenty of UK dates coming up do so. Go see them soon while you have the chance:

01.09.2018 Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny
07.09.2018 Vortex Jazz Club, London
14.09.2018 The Bear Club, Luton
06.10.2018 Toulouse Lautrec, London
20.10.2018 Jazzlive @ the Crypt, London
21.10.2018 The Oval Tavern, Croydon
03.11.2018 Cafè Posk, London
09.11.2018 Sheffield Jazz
15.11.2018 Cambridge Jazz Club

Mike Gates