From this perch, 2022 is beginning to look like the year of the organ-led bands. Leading the pack is the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio which follows last year’s smash, I Told You So, with their first album featuring their new drummer, Dan Weiss, thus the title Cold As Weiss. This writer is aware of at least three more organ trio albums in a soul-jazz mode staged to release in just the next couple of months. Soul-jazz is also at the core of the Delvon Lamarr Trio’s (DLO3) sound which has broken through to gain airplay beyond jazz to rock, pop, and alternative stations as well.
DLO3 has managed to separate itself from the label of ‘retro act’ by both honoring the tradition of great early ‘60s Blue Note recordings and contemporizing it with modern funk, catchy hooks, and guitar lines that at times evoke rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix. Just as the Stax sound of Booker T. & Th M.G.’s was able to break through to popular radio, the DLO3 has done the same sixty years later. If you liked “Green Onions,” you will surely like the DLO3.
This is the trio’s third album and upon release of last year’s breakthrough effort, Weiss was mentioned as the new drummer who would be joining and touring. Weiss also plays with the soul and funk collective The Sextones, so he fits in seamlessly. The self-taught leader is a dynamo on the B3 and guitarist Jimmy James is well-versed in several styles ranging from Steve Cropper to Grant Green to the aforementioned fiery rock explosive runs (i.e. “Don’t Worry ‘Bout What I Do”). The album plays as one extended unrelenting groove, through which it is impossible to remain still, (and to single out standout tracks, although we’ll try). The energy never lags. Even the slow burner, “Uncertainty” where James develops the melody, is wrapped in enough drama where one feels the low ebb will build and explode at any moment although it never does.
The band has a sense of humor too as gleaned in their song titles, beginning with the single “Pull Your Pants Up,” which could pass as a generalized urban observation but in this case refers to having to tell guitarist James to do just that frequently while on tour. “Get Da Steppin’” and “Slip N’ Slide” certainly connote the danceable fare but are titles that could be attached to almost any track. “I Wanna Be Where You Are” is a bit gentler, with LaMarr delivering a joyous melody on a right-hand dominant church-sounding organ. Most of his other forays carry that classic whirling, swooshing, enveloping B3 sound, where the left-hand carries the bass line. The walking bass line of the longest track, “TT Blues,” is invigorating and infectious, proving to be a launching pad for both searing excursions from the B3 and guitar. Weiss keeps it the groove solidly intact, allowing the two chordal instruments to unleash their fury.
Several of the other tunes such as “Get Da Steppin’,” “Slip N’ Slide,” and “Keep On Keepin’ On” lock into a groove around which LaMarr and James slyly improvise. Weiss is, of course, the rock steady force holding it together. The final track, “This Is Who Is” pours out down n’ dirty funk, with James using classic funk wah wah effects both in support and in his eviscerating solo, closing the album with the most contemporary sounding tune of all.
As good as last year’s I Told You So was, this is an even stronger response to their already highly raised bar.