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A bluer shade of organ

Lost River Jams
Lost River Jams
By Jeremy Baum

Flying Yak Records: 2002

This review first appeared in the Summer 2003 issue of Turbula.

Jeremy Baum first came to our attention playing some mean organ on an album by blues guitarist Sue Foley a few years back. Turned out he's played with plenty of other heavyweights, too – folks like The Band and Ronnie Earl. Among others.

So when he sent Turbula a copy of his first solo album, it got played right away. And frequently after, as well.

Trying to describe it, however, was a bit more difficull than digging it. And so it sat for awhile after he we first got it, unreviewed.

Baum's playing has a deep funk to it, with a big influence of Jimmy Smith. But there's more of a straight-ahead blues sensibility than Smith has. And Baum also brings in all kinds of other things as well – dissonant jazz, alternative rock, R&B. He's not too far off from what John Medeski does with Medeski, Martin and Wood, but with more of a blues streak to it.

Most of the songs are originals from Baum, and all have a certain timelessness to them – they're the kind of seemingly simple riffs that the Basie band's arrangers and composers used to be able to turn out on the spot, but then stick in your head forever. The opening track, "Take a Walk," has a kind of Charlie Hunter groove to it; "Goin' Home" is an old-school, '70s rock anthem with a luscious melodic hook. And guitarist Tony Velez's "Liberty Street" is a Latin blues – a seamless, utterly charming Latin blues.

Baum has a crack band surrounding him on this album; Chris Vitarello has as rhythmically based technique on guitar as you'll hear, while Ernesto "Ernie" Colón sets a smoothly rippling foundation on drums. Guest guitarist/singer Bill Perry takes lead on a simmering cover of B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby," while Velez's lead on the tres guitar helps turn "Autumn Leaves" into an uptempo fusion piece.