“’Wow’. Lovers of jazz across the UK – prepare to be taken by storm by the Nigel Price Organ Quartet. An experience not to be missed!” ★★★★★ The Jazz Mann
“This is just about as good as it gets whether you’re into guitar, organ, sax, drums or simply great jazz.” Bebop Spoken Here
British guitarist and composer Nigel Price brings his organ trio to Whirlwind in Heads & Tales, Volume 2, a double album which follows up his original 2011 release. Rooted in the blues and hard bop traditions – echoing the fluidity of the likes of Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery and Louis Stewart – his considerable appeal stems from the unequivocal understanding of his instrument (here, a new D’Angelico NYL-5), as well as a desire to nurture his own voice while building strong rapport with live audiences.
For part one of this 2-CD release, Price revels in his collaboration with Hammond organist Ross Stanley and drummer Matt Home. Together, they shape his original music through the earthy authenticity of the organ trio idiom, their connectivity sparking relentless verve and invention. He also invites saxophonists Alex Garnett and Vasilis Xenopoulos to guest on a number of tracks, adding further weight and dynamism to the guitarist’s material.
Price’s own works are cryptically modelled on well-known jazz standards (interpreted later, solo), turning them on their head with imaginative composition and often quirky titling. For example: Gigi Gryce’s ‘Minority’ becomes ‘Majority’; Harold Arlen’s ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ translates into ‘Wet & Dry’; and Frank Loesser’s ‘Slow Boat to China’ is re-fashioned as ‘Junk’ (“Chinese boat, innit?”, he quips). As Nigel explains, “There’s something very clear and rewarding about developing these contrafacts. Knowing the form and harmony already, you then engage your own sensibilities to produce something new and punchy, conceived specifically with your own players and instrumentation in mind.”
Such synergy is palpable in ‘Blue Genes’, Price proving that new light can shine through old windows by transforming Duke Pearson’s ‘Jeannine’ into a fast-swing showcasing Vasilis Xenopoulos’s voluble tenor improv, with the guitar adeptly comping behind. Ross Stanley’s Hammond dexterity, throughout, is matchless. Combining textural color, breakneck runs and audacious pedalboard momentum, he links up with Alex Garnett’s assured tenor sax in ‘R&R’ to create a modern classic; and smouldering ‘Smokescape’ (a slow’n’moody reworking of Kenny Burrell’s ‘Midnight Blue’) feels like it was written for the organist’s bluesy soloing.
Jimmy Raney’s ‘Parker 51’ (the only non-original in this first set) is as breathless as they come, with Matt Home’s incisive syncopation underpinning Price’s typically fleet extemporizations; ‘Up and Out’ illuminates the guitar’s alluring melodies amidst the comparative lightness of the trio; and the exchange of alto and tenor solos in ‘Majority’ affirms the leader’s vision in bringing together Garnett and Xenopoulos for this recording.
The second session, recorded entirely as solo guitar performances or duo overdubs, pulls into even sharper focus the demanding intricacies of Price’s varied technique. These nine, intimately-recorded gems of standards glisten timelessly, from the blithe demeanor of Ray Noble’s ‘Cherokee’ and Rodgers & Hart’s ‘Have You Met Miss Jones?’ through to a crunchy, rocking interpretation of Joe Pass’s ‘Fragments of Blues’, the brazen, dual-guitar strut of ‘Midnight Blue’, and a mellow bossa impression of Horace Silver’s ‘Peace’.
With a total of almost two hours’ of material, much of it recorded as single takes, Nigel Price is in his element with the release of Heads & Tales, Volume 2: “It means the world to me to play great music with these guys, to be able to make it happen and to get it out there to the people. That’s what really matters to me.” And check out the CD booklet – a gallery of social media responses to the guitarist’s call for photo-editing wizardry is priceless.
The Nigel Price Organ Trio, winner of a Parliamentary Jazz Awards for Best Esemble is led by one of Britain’s leading guitarists. Nigel Price is a regular performer at Ronnie Scott’s where he has made more than 500 appearances. He spent three years with the James Taylor Quartet and has performed with the BBC Big Band, Carleen Anderson and the legendary David Axelrod. Nigel is particularly known for his blend of flowing, fiery bebop-influenced lines and deep blues influences.
For Heads and Tales, Volume 2, he is joined by drummer Matt Home and organist Ross Stanley. Formed in 2002, this trio has performed and toured extensively both in the UK and abroad including ten residencies at Ronnie Scott’s. The consequences of this long term collaboration are a rare, cohesive chemistry between three musicians, an enormous repertoire and the ability to put on a well-structured show that entertains from start to finish. Joining as special guests on the new double album will be Whirlwind artist Alex Garnett and Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor saxophones.
Nigel is currently in the middle of a 56 date tour of the UK. Kindly supported by Arts Council England, the tour will include workshops and support bands from local schools, colleges and music organisations.