New Standards for the Green Lady.
OJT New Standards for the Green Lady.
01 Chained Lightning 5:29 (Becker / Fagan)
Produced by Ken Lovern
Photos by Brandon Cale - ThePopperazi.com
Specific thanks to Rick Prevallet of ToneWheelGeneral.com for his excellent organ and Leslie parts and maintenance.
Special thanks to John Scott and the entire staff of the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Kansas City Missouri.
A big thank you to all of the music fans who come to the Green Lady Lounge every week. This music only happens with your help.
A big thanks to our families and everyone who encouraged us and helped us with this project. You know who you are and so do we.
"Standards" are the tunes that Jazz musicians play. Usually they are mid-20th century Broadway show tunes, or some are original compositions by Jazz musicians that have earned the title Jazz standard.
When OJT started performing at the Green Lady Lounge in early 2013, we immediately began playing our organ jazz arrangements of hit songs of the last few decades along with our original tunes and standards. The "new" tunes seemed a good fit for the venue and the band.
Few, if any, of the tunes on this release could be considered standards. As far as we know, only four of these tunes have previous Jazz performances. Eleanor Rigby has been played by Wes Montgomery and others. Bobby Broom did an excellent version of Layla on his album Modern Man, and Charles Earland covered The Way You Make Me Feel. We may have been influenced by some of these versions. The Bad Plus has an esoteric and mellow version of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, but we weren't aware of that until recently. The of these tunes began their Jazz life at the hands of OJT.
The Green Lady Lounge has a hip retro cocktail vibe that provides the perfect setting for playing Jazz. We hope that our treatment of these familiar tunes brings that vibe to your ears."
Jazz Daddy Records 1501
Ken Lovern's OJT 2005 debut album Organ Jazz Trio includes the 3 current mainstays Ken Lovern, Brian Baggett and Kevin Frazee with guests Todd Strait and Stan Kessler. Over a decade later the band is still playing over 100 gigs a year and is working on their 3rd release.
01 OJT Theme (Intro) 1:10 Ken Lovern
Produced by Ken Lovern and James Albright
Bukeka Shoals: Vocals
Tracks: Big Yellow Taxi, ‘T Ain't Nobody's Bizness, Night and Day, Never Can Say Goodbye, Fat Daddy, Middle of the Road, God Bless the Child, Venus, I Loves You Porgy
Recorded, engineered, and mastered by Ryan Kleeman. Produced by Ken Lovern and Ryan Kleeman. Music arranged by Ken Lovern. Vocal arrangement on “Middle of the Road” by Bukeka Shoals. Jazz Daddy Records, 2006.
On track three of this new album, the classic “Night and Day,” Ken Lovern's Organ Jazz Trio (OJT) begins with a melodic tom-tom introduction in which Bukeka Shoals, the featured vocalist on the album, sings a haunting version of a lost first verse from this classic tune. The group's sensitivity to this verse verges on musical theatre with the “tick-tock of the clock” of the verse coming also from the organ and drums. Lovern said that the group tried hard to represent what was happening in the lyrics in the instrumentals that back them. He mentioned imitating the clock's tick tock, and he also spoke of the lost verse.
“You don't usually hear that verse,” said Lovern, “and that adds a lot to that tune.” And the tune is exquisite in its blend of instrumentals and words. This tune represents the album's overall seamless juxtaposition of old and new, classic and pop, and blues and jazz. Plus, it is accessible. Half of the album is jazz standards, and half of the album is pop tunes.
“We tried to take things that folks have been hearing on the radio in the past 30 years,” said Lovern. “I think it is fun to do recent pop music with a jazz treatment.”
Tunes range in genre and feel from the folk tune of the ‘60s, “Big Yellow Taxi,” and the tune Dinah Washington made famous in the ‘50s, “Fat Daddy,” to “Venus” of the ‘80s, and the more standard Gershwin/Hayward tune “I Loves You Porgy” or Holiday/Herzog's “God Bless the Child.”
“It's good-time music,” Lovern said, “music for the people.” This sums up well the appeal of the album, which is jazzy, with numerous great solos by Lovern and guitarist Brian Baggett, but also with an attention to the hard, bluesy groove Bukeka brings to the album. It is a groove complimented well by Lovern's organ work, which is mellow but driving, and always upbeat.
Although the organ trio—with organ, guitar, and drums—is not entirely unique in the jazz world, since groups like Wes Montgomery's had this configuration, Lovern said that adding a singer makes the group unique. Lovern called the combination of an organ jazz trio with a vocalist a “warmer, unique sound.” He added that the bluesy feel of the group, including a dynamic vocalist, has granted a wider appeal in terms of the group's audiences. Speaking of how some audience members are drawn mainly to the human voice, and not to the instrumentalists, and come primarily to hear the singer, Lovern said, “People relate to the singer.” With Bukeka in the line up, Lovern said that more of the mass of his typical audiences seem to stay longer during the breadth of each set. Some people just love a singer, I guess. However, this says a lot for Bukeka's strong vocal presence as well.
Also, the pop element is exciting, and it is a draw. In some ways, bringing contemporary pop tunes into the jazz idiom has become, for some, a lost art. However, guitarist Brian Baggett appreciates this fusion of contemporary music and jazz standards in their sound.
“The distinction…between pop and jazz used to be a fuzzy line,” said Baggett. “It's nice to see people like Ken arrange pop music for jazz trios.”
The OJT+B will hold CD release parties on Fri., Aug. 18, at the Center for Spiritual Living, and Mon., Sept. 25, at Jardine's. Oh, and you can listen to tunes from the album at www.myspace.com/ojtplusb or www.KenLovern.com.
Bukeka Shoals has delighted audiences for years with her powerful delivery and uplifting presence. Her compositions have brought joy to many people both through her live performances and her debut record, “Bukeka.” Now, she brings these same qualities to an eclectic and style bending jazz setting by joining with Ken Lovern’s OJT (Organ Jazz Trio) for this set of 9 songs. With original arrangements in that funky organ jazz groove, Bukeka radiates her vocal magic over the superb accompaniment of the OJT. About half the songs are traditional jazz standards, the other half are pop tunes of more recent vintage. Bukeka makes them all her own on this superbly recorded release. Enjoy!
1. Big Yellow Taxi: A great folk tune from the late 60’s, OJT gives it the old organ jazz shuffle, Kansas City Style. Bukeka makes the vocal melody her own.
2. T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: The first of several tunes on this recording associated with the inimitable Billy Holiday – Bukeka’s strong vocals, however, owe as much to the legacy of Ella Fitzgerald as Lady Day.
3. Night and Day: This standard of standards begins with a thundering floor tom introducing the too rarely performed verse. The group employs a Latin feel for the majority of the tune. Check out the fade by the band.
4. Never Can Say Goodbye: The low notes of the organ bass are a perfect fit this R & B anthem from the early 70’s. The out chorus showcases Bukeka’s improvisational chops. (For added inspiration wag your finger back and forth while singing along, “no, no, no.”)
5. Fat Daddy: This blues made famous by Dinah Washington in the 1950’s is an ideal vehicle for Bukeka’s storytelling delivery. The solos kick it old school with Brian barking our some blues licks and Ken pulling out the “Wild” Bill Davis stops.
6. Middle of the Road: The group adapts some 80’s attitude into a boogaloo version of The Pretenders’ working class rocker. Bukeka’s shows her versatility with the harmony parts.
7. God Bless the Child: The group endeavors to deliver a fresh version of this Billy Holiday classic. Bukeka demonstrates her wide dynamic range in this exciting performance.
8. Venus: This tune does pre-date the Banarama dance hit of the 80’s. The European group “Shocking Blue” wrote and recorded the initial version. Bukeka and the group pay homage to the booty shakin’ dance ancestry of the tune and groove it all the way through.
9. I Love’s You Porgy: The final track is a hushed yet powerful version of this sad and beautiful song from Porgy and Bess. This arrangement owes more to the Nina Simone version than the older Billy Holiday jazz adaptation. The group’s delicate ending utilizes the dynamic range possible in the recording studio.