Monday, November 19, 2018

Mike Bogle Trio's Dr. B!

It seems like it's been forever since I've had a great organ jazz trio in for review. These jazz genres tend to arrive in waves, and the season for Hammond B-3s must have passed many months ago. But now that there's snow on the ground, this type of jazz is so warm and welcoming--and like magic, the sun came out today once I started listening to Dr.B! Mike Bogle's to blame, and so is that exclamation mark.

Bogle is known primarily as a Texas-based jazz pianist, trombonist and singer, but Mr. B! is his tribute to the B-3, a relaxed and laid-back set with just the right amount of playfulness in the groove. Bogle has teamed with guitarist Rich McClure and drummer Ivan Torres, and while the latter two are actually quite energetic in their approach, it's the Hammond that acts as a musical varnish, a smooth coat of easiness that permeates every track. Moving from piano to B-3 might not sound like a huge leap, but there's an art to adding the unique Hammond textures, those steady growls and flourishes that seem almost impossible to recreate on other types of keyboards. Bogle gets this, and his B-3 is a magical combination of smoothness and light.

Bogle's worked with the best, including Doc Severinsen (who is still cooking at age 91), Jaco Pastorius and Burt Bacharach. He's also a former member of the One O'Clock Lab Band from the University of North Texas. He did all this as a trombonist and pianist, however, so that makes his B-3 "debut" a bit surprising. He's such a confident and distinctive player, especially when it comes to his mastery of the bass pedals. It shouldn't come as a surprise since Bogle plays in so many different ensembles--an experimental rock group, a Caribbean jazz quartet and a big band. He's perhaps most famous for his solo piano recordings, which include everything from Joplin to Gershwin to Brubeck.

Even Bogle's vocals are fun and intriguing. Despite his Texas roots, Bogle's voice is straight out of New Orleans, sometimes bouncing off a Tom Waits half-speak and sometimes reaching deep into a blues baritone. On the last of these five extended jams, an original named "Walkin'," Bogle tells the story of a mystery man walking through unfamiliar neighborhoods and finally coming to the conclusion that it's better to "keep walkin' by." This is an apt metaphor for Bogle's musical prowess, that he can approach something new and walk with a confidence that can carry him safely through the night.

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