Rekindled interest in the Hammond B-3 organ, a staple of soul jazz in the 50s and 60s, has given us a slew of virtuosos who model themselves on the extroverted father of the jazz organ trio, Jimmy Smith–among them Joey DeFrancesco, Tony Monaco, and Chicago’s own Chris Foreman. But other modern organists still take a more reflective approach to the instrument, including Larry Goldings, Sam Yahel, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and for them we can thank Melvin Rhyne. The B-3 is a versatile beast, and it’s led many players to find more and more ways to fill up the music. But when Rhyne began recording with gifted guitarist Wes Montgomery in the late 50s, he took a decidedly softer and less complicated approach than the one promulgated by Smith and his imitators. He’s just as interested in texture, but in terms of timbre he leans more toward pastels than neons, and his melody lines are relatively unornamented, like a jazz horn’s–which helps explain his tremendous influence on the horn players who’ve worked with him (like trumpeter Brian Lynch) and even on vocalist Jackie Allen, who studied with him when they both lived in Wisconsin. (Rhyne’s recently moved back to his native Indianapolis.) On most of his recent albums, Rhyne has employed Peter Bernstein, who’s become the go-to guitarist for various New York organ groups. Bernstein’s style–measured, understated, making each note count–supports and reflects Rhyne’s own. (Bernstein also plays regularly with the aforementioned Larry Goldings, another keyboardist who speaks volumes by keeping a little in reserve.) Rhyne comes to Chicago occasionally, but Bernstein almost never does. These gigs are part of Pete Miller’s 8th Annual Jump & Verve Jazz Festival. Friday, October 10, 8:30 PM, Pete Miller’s Steakhouse, 1557 Sherman, Evanston; 847-328-0399. Saturday, October 11, 8 PM, Pete Miller’s Steakhouse, 412 N. Milwaukee, Wheeling; 847-243-3700.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.