From Jazztimes Magazine 04/23/10 • Albums • By Bobby Vega
Carl Fischer & The Organic Groove Ensemble – Adverse Times
Creativity, musicianship, & pure feel are the first thoughts that come to mind when describing the new release from trumpeter/composer Carl Fischer & The Organic Groove Ensemble titled “Adverse Times.” Fischer who is a Long Island native has spent much of his musical journey on several fronts. He has performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Nouveau Band, & most recently rock legend Billy Joel. Fischer gets around and there is a reason why. He can flat out play!
When organizing a recording many independent musicians miss the mark. Let me assure you “Adverse Times” does not miss the mark. The opening track “Wienheim Blues” is a groove fiesta, which grabs you right into this twelve-track date. Aside from the soaring playing of Fischer, the track also highlights guitarist Jay Azzolina who solos up one side of the composition and down the other.
The title track “Adverse Times” enters with a one-minute intro that leads into the body of work. The piece has a ghostly vocal section (performed by saxophonist John Scarpulla)- this falls behind the groove and lets just say needs to be heard. It is musical creativity that makes you think. Something we could use more of. What I love most about Fischer’s approach is he doesn’t conform, and he delivers one knock out musical punch after the other.
Personally I can run to the hills when I hear vocals in the jazz vain! Not here. Fischer has Brent Carter (Tower of Power fame) leading vocals on “Movin Out and On.” Another fantastic cut that Fischer & Azzolina eat up. Their trading of licks is like two champions in the ring. Next up is “Kirican Afternoon/Sonho Medley.” Fischer takes another turn here and gets Latin on us. Joined by percussionist Emiliano Valerio, again the musicianship doesn’t disappoint. There is strong rhythmic foundation and brilliant performance throughout.
Upon receiving Adverse Times I was informed that Carl was on the road with Billy Joel & Elton John so it was to no surprise that Fischer delivers a cover of the Joel classic “Downeaster Alexa.” A stunning tribute to the piano man which again shows why Fischer runs with the best of them. His tone and approach; along with his arrangements are all capturing to the listener. Following the Joel classic he comes right at you with “Open Up.” Grove, Grove and more Grove! This all laid down by organist Ron Oswanski. Hammond in your face and it just takes off from note one.
Up next is one of my personal favorites of all time – The Marcus Miller composition titled “Tutu” written for the Miles Davis recording of the same title. This is an admirable rendition with some incredible playing by saxophonist John Scarpulla. This is followed up by “Freeport to Fire Island” which includes another fantastic vocal performance by the great Brent Carter. The final two tracks are “Flo n Mayn Spirit” which is kind of a let loose “improv with structure” type of piece. Everyone gets their turn and again it is just top-notch musicianship throughout.
The closing track is another Billy Joel composition titled “Elegy for the Fisherman.” If you have not had the chance to check out Carl Fischer get over to Itunes and throw your hard earned towards one of the most creative and groove based recordings of 2010
“Solid and full of spirit, this record is an antidote to adverse times – and just try to get this catchy version of “Downeaster Alexa” out of your head – I haven’t been able to yet. ”