Soul Message Band: Live at Blue LLama (Blue LLama, 2022)

March 28, 2022 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Soul Message Band: Live at Blue LLama

Chicago’s Soul Message Band performed two sets at Ann Arbor’s swanky Blue LLama Jazz Club on January 31, 2020. This album, released by the club itself, captures performances from the evening, including compositions by Grant Green, Jimmy Smith, Stanley Turrentine, and others. Chris Foreman’s B3 organ playing seems to serve as the trio’s lead vocalist, and its rich tones dominate pieces like Green’s “Matador”. Smith’s “Midnight Special” begins with a lengthy gospel-ish organ solo and some indistinct stage chatter, then the rhythm section of guitarist Lee Rothenberg and drummer Greg Rockingham join in for a relaxed blues groove that slowly strides along for more than ten minutes. Again, the organ soloing seems much flashier and more involved than the other parts. Louis Bellson’s “Easy Time” is played slightly faster, but is in a similar mode, although the guitarist gets a little more time to shine. The band stretches out for 13 minutes on Slide Hampton’s “Frame for the Blues”, with Foreman providing a big finish. Finally, Turrentine’s “Minor Chant” is one of the set’s most upbeat performances, and the band just sound like they’re radiating sunshine for the entire song.

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