jAZZ hAMMOND® b-3 oRGANIST
Photo by Robert Johnson
Jeff Palmer named his last release Island Universe which also means "another dimension", where his organ playing and music have landed. Taking off where Larry Young left off, Palmer, like Coltrane, has found a direct link between his soul and his instrument, the Hammond® B-3 organ.
Born on June 1st, 1948 in Jackson Heights, NY, Jeff grew up in a musical family (his father was a guitarist). He started studying classical music when he was 4, first taking up the accordion. However, after hearing the Hammond® organ at 8, he fell in love with the beast. His first organ album was Jimmy Smith's Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff?. He switched instruments when at 15 he got a B-3 for his birthday. For the next 20 years, Jeff played many gigs in a variety of Jazz and Blues bands throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe.
Jeff is a self-taught organist, not a pianist turned organist. Over the years, he has performed with many famous musicians, including Grant Green, George Benson, John Scofield, Stanley Turrentine, Lou Donaldson, Eddie Harris, James Moody, John Abercrombie, Arthur Blythe, Marvin "Smitty" Smith and Rashied Ali. In fact, 16 years after having heard his first Jimmy Smith album, Jeff spent a week with him while touring in Miami, FL.
However, it was pianist Paul Bley who helped launch Jeff's recording career by producing his first album Solo Organ/Outer Limit on Improvising Artists. This 1981 release is an organ tour de force which explores the harmonic possibilities of the B-3/122 combination. Bley also asked Palmer to tour with him in Europe in 1982 and 1984.
In 1987, Palmer released his first in a series of quartet albums with John Abercrombie on guitar. This one, Laser Wizzard, with Adam Nussbaum and Gary Campbell, was nominated for a Grammy Award. On the next one, Abracadabra, Jeff went with ex-Miles Davis band member Dave Liebman on soprano sax and Abercrombie's recurrent drummer Adam Nussbaum.
The now classic Ease On with Arthur Blythe on alto and Victor Lewis on drums, as well as Jeff's next project Shades of the Pine with Billy Pierce on tenor and the hottest drummer on the Jazz scene today Marvin "Smitty" Smith, were both highly acclaimed for their challenging Blues-based compositions, hard driving grooves and fiery performances.
Island Universe, his latest release, is also starting to gather some good reviews. This recording features Artur Blythe on alto for the second time, and master Free drummer Rashied Ali, who was John Coltrane's last drummer.
For more biographical information, check out Pete Fallico's article from Jazz Now magazine.
The title says it all!
w/ John Abercrombie (g), Gary Campbell (ss, ts), Adam Nussbaum (d)
w/ David Liebman (ss), John Abercrombie (g), Adam Nussbaum (d)
w/ Arthur Blythe (as), John Abercrombie (g), Victor Lewis (d)
w/ Billy Pierce (ts), John Abercrombie (g), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (d)
w/ Arthur Blythe (as), John Abercrombie (g), Rashied Ali (d)
The titles Solo Organ/Outer Limit (cassette) and Laser Wizzard (LP) are only available from Jeff Palmer directly, through the intermediary of the A-B-C Music Shop. The cover, track listing and sound bites from each release are available by clicking on the title! You can find Jeff's other releases at these online stores in addition to many local retailers.
- "Although the instrumentation might lead one to think that the music on this session is a typical organ date from the 1960's (with alto used instead of tenor), the first moments of the opening "All Cracked Up" immediately changes one's expectations. Palmer does his best to blow away any thoughts of Jimmy Smith, as he plays harmonically advanced and sometimes nearly atonal improvisations. The music is quite adventurous (although often swinging) with plenty of fiery interaction between the musicians.
Arthur Blythe's highly original tone (which sometimes sounds halfway between Cannonball Adderley and Eric Dolphy) fits in perfectly with Palmer and the eccentric soloing of guitarist John Abercrombie. It is a particular joy to hear the legendary drummer Rashied Ali (still best-known for being a member of John Coltrane's Quintet during 1966-67) playing at the peak of his powers after nearly 30 years of general obscurity.
But it is Jeff Palmer who deserves the bulk of the credit for this set's success. He contributed all ten pieces and is one of the few organists around today who has managed to escape from the dominant Jimmy Smith influence, developing a style that is even beyond Larry Young. The music on his CD is sometimes quite dark and mildly disturbing, but it is also quite often extroverted and full of wild spirits; even "Amerigo" (which is basically a blues) is unpredictable. Jeff Palmer's best recording thus far, Island Universe is highly recommended."
Scott Yanow ~ Cadence Jazz Magazine - November 1996 (p. 104)
- "Palmer's island is neither Gilligan's funnyland nor a Caribbean getaway, but rather a place for thoughtful withdrawal, somewhere near those islands of the inner ear. The organist indeed picks up the hard cudgels and loomy pedals of the late Larry Young, exploring areas of the B-3 where no man has gone before and sending back obscure messages.
Long time bandmate John Abercrombie, who has elsewhere shown recent affinity for organ trio (Dan Wall, ECM) digs in deeply. Arthur Blythe's alto (on several tracks) never gets quite as down and dirty with these neo-blue explorations; on "Amerigo" (tribute to Columbus' mapmaker?), he flies while the trio sails. Drummer Rashied Ali proves a tireless helmsman.
The dark, introspective grooves Palmer sends out on murky tunes like "Spot Check" make me think of inspecting yourself for measles, or worse. Some bog down utterly, as on "Count Sirloin"'s lurching lipids. Some squiggle like "Octopia," a threatening, deep-sea rarity that brings out Abercrombie's other-worldly best. Fascinating, as Spock would say."
- "This is the Jazz organ recording I've been waiting for." - Jeff Palmer
Shades of the Pine
- "Jeff Palmer might remind some of Larry Young and Don Patterson, both regrettably long gone from the scene, but only in the chances he's willing to take with angular runs that stretch harmonic possibilities. ... Palmer's compositions ... are memorable blues riff figures, very brief but open-ended enough for hard-driving grooves ... also slightly Monkish." - Jazz Times
- "Organist Jeff Palmer maps out what he feels is the next dimension for the grand-daddy of all synthesizers." - Pete Fallico - Jazz Now
- "Palmer pushes the music beyond Jimmy Smith, bringing an entirely modern attack to grand-daddy blues. The result is a wildly innovative program that expands the tradition rather than replicates it." - Bill Kohlhaase, Contributing Jazz writer - LA Times
- "4 1/2 stars. This is a hard blowing date with the underrated New York organist and an interesting group that sounds just plain hungry." - Downbeat
- "A remarkably successful example of the genre." - Jazz Times