egroj world: Tony Kofi & The Organisation • Point Blank
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martes, 2 de octubre de 2018

Tony Kofi & The Organisation • Point Blank

British saxophonist Tony Kofi has made a specialism of heritage projects. Among the best of them is the Monk Liberation Front, a band which Kofi co-founded with pianist Jonathan Gee in 2003 and which performs Thelonious Monk's music. The work of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley is the focus of another venture. An early spin-off from the Front was the Tony Kofi Quartet's paradigm tweaking Plays Monk: All Is Know (Specific, 2004). The Adderley project has yet to be recorded. In late 2017, Kofi also put together the band which accompanied harpist Alina Bzhezhinska in a London concert headlined by Pharoah Sanders and dedicated to the legacy of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane. The same band is featured on Bzhezhinska's sublime Inspiration (Ubuntu, 2018).
Kofi moves effortlessly between soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, and it is the baritone which he plays on Point Blank. The disc co-stars The Organisation, a guitar / organ / drums trio which specialises in soul jazz and funk, and with whom Kofi first performed in 2010. The ten-track album features jazz standards and lesser-known material written by Duke Pearson, Pepper Adams, Henry Mancini, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Smith, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Woody Shaw, Horace Silver and Jimmy Smith. "I don't think I set out to create a retro concept," says Kofi, "but because I grew up in the 1970s, the music of that era is deeply rooted within my musical ear."
The title Point Blank is inspired by John Boorman's 1967 movie of the same name, which starred Lee Marvin as a gangster engaged in a war of attrition with his former colleagues in a Mafia-like outfit called The Organization. The soundtrack for the film was written by Johnny Mandel, and Kofi rather missed a trick by not including something from Mandel's luscious songbook on the disc.
The music on the album is performed with elan and given a refreshing twist by the use of baritone rather than tenor saxophone, the default horn featured with most bands such as The Organisation. Further, despite the organ, the disc, particularly on the ballads, sometimes evokes Gerry Mulligan's keyboard-less (and guitar-less) quartet with Chet Baker—an added bonus. Point Blank does not go anywhere we have not gone before, but it is an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

The sight of Tony Kofi picking up baritone sax never fails to produce a tremor of excitement – and on Point Blank, he and The Organisation fervently explore the post-bop jazz repertoire through ten choice numbers from ten artists/composers, including Wes Montgomery, McCoy Tyner, Henry Mancini and Jimmy Smith.
The Organisation – guitarist Simon Fernsby, organist Pete Whittaker and drummer Peter Cater – began life as a London-based organ trio, over a decade ago; and it was only a fortuitous depping opportunity in 2010 which brought Kofi into the mix (shortly after he had recorded in the US with Ornette Coleman), establishing this fine and peppy quartet line-up.
Indeed, it’s an eager and spirited reading of Duke Pearson’s Minor League which heralds these 55 minutes of feel-good, Kofi’s deeply growled tones combining with Fernsby’s lithe guitar, buoyed by Whittaker’s bass-bouncing organ tremolo and Cater’s cymbal-shimmering drums. Closely-matched chordal timbres from guitar and organ provide an effective exchange and mingling of textures throughout, Pepper Adams’ sprightly Bossallegro showcasing the organ trio as Kofi’s breezy melodies sail across; and his smoother baritone expressions glide over an attractive promenading groove in Dr Lonnie Smith’s LS Blues. The sumptuous orchestral romance of Henry Mancini’s Theme from Mr Lucky is exchanged for joyous swing (those gruff bari resonances so visceral), while one of McCoy Tyner’s richest compositions, Search for Peace, though perhaps less lush here than in piano-supported arrangements, possesses a pleasing jazz-club immediacy.
Guitarists Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery are represented in Cisco and Full House respectively – two confidently bustling, about-town blazers which prompt unbridled soloing – and Kofi’s fluency in the lower register is a delight. Woody Shaw’s Moontrane preens itself in true organ-trio character in the central section, with Whittaker’s pedals obviously mobile below his rippling chords and melodies. Summer in Central Park paints Horace Silver’s tune in warmer, afterglow-evoked atmospheres; and it takes something special to improve on a Jimmy Smith original, yet Ready And Able’s breathless, all-out boisterousness becomes irresistible here.
The nod to classic ‘60s jazz album covers hints at this quartet’s experienced approach. Recorded in a single day’s studio session, Kofi, Fernsby, Whittaker and Cater maintain the tradition’s relevance with impeccable focus – and, most importantly, it’s a darned good listen.

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  1. Minor League
  2. Bossallegro
  3. Theme From Mr Lucky
  4. Search For Peace
  5. L S Blues
  6. Cisco
  7. Full House
  8. Moontrane
  9. Summer In Central Park
  10. Ready And Able

Label: The Last Music Company
Released: August 31, 2018

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