You’ll want to put the album on repeat.

Hammer Recordings

Greg Osby – alto, soprano saxes; Arno Krijger – Hammond B3 organ; Florian Arbenz – drums, percussion

The spring of 2020 saw the Corona virus shutting down everything. Musicians couldn’t perform, or tour, so Florian Arbenz opened up his recording studio in Switzerland and invited friends and some of his musical idols to come record. He said he wanted to record 12 conversations. He’s almost there. CONVERSATIONS #9 TARGETED just came out.

Florian first heard Greg Osby play in 1991. A few years later they were performing together. In 2020 they put out REFLECTIONS, a great duo record. Florian wanted to add a different sound to his next project so he decided to add an organ. Never mind that neither Arbenz or Osby had ever recorded with one before. To my ears, they made the perfect choice.

I started collecting jazz records in the 70s. At the time I thought the organ combos were a little cheesy. I’ve since recovered from the folly of my youth and I now cherish those Shirley Scott and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis records.

Dutch Hammond organ maestro Arno Krijger has worked with some of the top jazz players as well as people from the world of funk, pop, and alternative music. He cites Larry Young as an influence. Larry could play the blues but he also liked playing with the more modern players.

The chitlin ’circuit organ players played the blues and some R&B and that’s it. They wanted nothing to do with the boppers. Grant Green said Larry Young never got in the way. He was always trying to make the group sound better. Sounds like Arno.

On Florian Arbenz’s ’Sleeping Mountain, ’Arbenz, Krijger, Osby seem to share the same brush and paint church-like phrases. I saw Roland Kirk many times playing with two or three instruments at the same time. This trio has that same kind of telepathy.

A controlled maelstrom of sound and rhythm is one way to describe Arbenz’s playing. I counted five different cymbals in his drum setup. He could make a bloody racket if he wanted to! Arbenz is like a dancer, weaving in and out of the other players, getting in as close as possible without stepping on toes.

Greg Osby shines on ‘I Love You Porgy.’ He wrenches every bit of poignancy out of this Gershwin classic. Arbenz stays in the background. Arno adds some ethereal counterpoint. Osby’s playing is like an anguished cry from the human soul. Spectacular.

All the songs are short. That’s okay. You’ll want to put the album on repeat.

It’s early but I know CONVERSATIONS #9 TARGETED is going to be in my year end best of 2023 list.

Reviewed by Tim Larsen