John Ginty Band: Fireside Live

That distinctive, hopelessly malleable sound of the Hammond B-3 organ is brilliant in the right hands, but it’s frustrating how many halfway decent B-3 players allow themselves to get mired in cosmic slop. All those keys and spacey sounds’ll do that, it seems, and sludgy solos and syrupy licks are almost inevitable. The organ isn’t the first instrument that comes to mind when you think “light,” “percussive,” and “crisp.”

But leave it to the veteran Ginty–a Grammy Award winner–to rein in that slippery sound and make it do his bidding. That’s what he did in his three years on the road with Robert Randolph & the Family Band, as well as his work with everyone from Santana to Jewel and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and is now doing as a bandleader.

Fireside Live is loads of fun, as if Joey DeFrancesco or Jimmy Scott traded in the more academic jazz aesthetic (but retained same chops and improvisational proclivities) to front a boozy gospel-rock outfit Ginty’s taken to calling “outlaw gospel.” Thrilling, knotty jams are what awaits on these two discs. In addition to a nice range of originals – including Ginty’s excellent Randolph Band regularity “Calypso” – he throws in covers spanning Santana’s “Savor,” and the Elmore James-by-way-of-the-Allmans staple “Done Somebody Wrong,” to standards in “Gospel Jam,” “When the Saints Go Marching In” and even Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun.”

There’s a handful of guest appearances, too, notably by Jemimah Puddleduck’s J.T. Thomas, and Thomas’ sometimes bandmate Mark Karan (RatDog), who slays the album-closing “Broken Lines.”

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