Sunday, November 11, 2018

Album Review: OJT- New Originals for the Green Lady

“Lamanai”, the stellar track that opens New Originals for the Green Lady, suggests that the Kansas City trio OJT has developed an intriguing new approach to organ jazz.  Organist Ken Lovern twines the styles of prog-rock keyboardists like Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson with the approaches of jazz giants such as Jimmy McGriff and Richard “Groove” Holmes.  Guitarist Brian Baggett and Kevin Frazee help Lovern gradually morph “Lamanai” from rock pomp into a Southern rock jam worthy of the Allman Brothers Band.

Alas, OJT backtracks from the bold opening salvo.   The subsequent selections on its fourth album New Originals for the Green Lady are in the established organ jazz traditions that range from vintage Jimmy Smith through John Scofield’s collaborations with Medeski Martin & Wood.  While not particularly innovative, the final seven tracks are unflaggingly groovy. 

It’s the kind of feel-good party music associated with Green Lady Lounge.  OJT honed the uncommon cohesion it demonstrates on New Originals for the Green Lady by playing at Kansas City’s most successful jazz venue every Wednesday for years.  On “Lamanai,” however, OJT transcends those influences to forge a fresh new sound, a breakthrough that the group would do well to pursue on its next recording.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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