'Now Is The Time' For Organist Chris Foreman

Mar 2, 2015
Originally published on March 9, 2015 11:00 am

With guitarist Bobby Broom, organist Chris Foreman has recorded several albums with the Deep Blue Organ Trio. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Foreman is one of a few Chicago jazz heroes who should be better known outside the city limits.

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Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Our jazz critic, Kevin Whitehead, has a review of a new album by organist Chris Foreman. Kevin says Foreman is one of a few Chicago jazz heroes who should be better known outside the city limits. Foreman has recorded several albums with the Deep Blue Organ Trio with guitarist Bobby Broom. Here's Kevin's review of Foreman's new album.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS FOREMAN SONG, "NOW'S THE TIME")

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Chris Foreman playing Charlie Parker's "Now's The Time," almost the title track to Foreman's new solo and duo album, "Now Is The Time." It's on the Sirens label. For jazz fans who crave swing and blues feeling, Foreman cuts right to the good stuff and stays there. He'll attack the keys with a jazz drummer's incisive phrasing. Chris Foreman's an old-school blues hound, but his rhythm sounds informed by vintage hip-hop vinyl scratching too.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS FOREMAN SONG, "NOW'S THE TIME")

WHITEHEAD: It's unusual for jazz organists to play solo, but it makes sense. They're already their own bass player, walking bass on foot petals or with the left hand. Even so, on "Now Is The Time," Chris Foreman deploys a couple of helpers, like alto saxophonist Diane Ellis, who works tart vocal inflections into her blues.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS FOREMAN SONG, "THE PEEPER")

WHITEHEAD: Chris Foreman's duo performances include a rare up-tempo take of the ballad "I Cover The Waterfront" in a cover version. One of the organist's heroes is Philadelphia's Jimmy McGriff, who wrote a couple pieces here and played a couple others. Foreman lovingly recreates McGriff's 1966 version of "Waterfront," getting the same washing machine timbres and quoting liberally from the original. Somehow he makes McGriff's modern art sound even more abstract 49 years later. Andy Brown is on guitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS FOREMAN SONG, "I COVER THE WATERFRONT")

WHITEHEAD: I saw a terrific Chris Foreman solo set in Chicago recently, where he played organ and piano sometimes simultaneously. He does only a little of that here, but he does play two overdubbed organ and piano pieces. Layering on the keyboards can get out of hand quick, but Foreman knows better than to overdo. He loves to shout but can also bring it way down.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS FOREMAN SONG, "COTTON BOY BLUES")

WHITEHEAD: Truth to tell, Chris Foreman is his own best duo partner on "Now Is The Time," and I wish the album included more than one pure solo track. But I like how the record puts him front and center since he's always such a team player, which is why he brought his friends along in the first place.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS FOREMAN SONG, "LONELY AVENUE")

GROSS: Kevin Whitehead writes for Point of Departure and is the author of "Why Jazz?" He reviewed "Now Is The Time," the new album by organist Chris Foreman on the Sirens label. Tomorrow on our show, a look into the future of online college education and how it may transform college as we know it and make it more accessible and affordable. We'll talk with Kevin Carey about his new book, "The End Of College: Creating The Future Of Learning And The University Of Everywhere."

FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our senior producer is Roberta Shorrock. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Dorothy Ferebee is our administrative assistant. Our associate producer for online media is Molly Seavy-Nesper. John Sheehan directed today's show. I'm Terry Gross. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.