Winning a contest on one of the jazz websites, my prize was the Motéma CD by Australian guitarist JC Stylles, Exhilaration and Other States. I was completely unfamiliar with Stylles prior to this contest, but this organ trio album with organist Pat Bianchi and drummer Lawrence Leathers has quickly become a personal favorite.
Exhilarating is the feeling from the album's as the band comes out smoking on Eddie Marshall's Knucklebean, a feverish blues that illustrates the empathy between the three. Stevie Wonder's I Can't Help, has a slightly slower tempo, but Stylles continues with his fleet, driving attack. The temperature drops for the lovely Billy Eckstine ballad I Want To Talk About You, with Stylles cleanly articulating each note and employing judicious use of sustain for a lovely performance. Stylles confesses a love for ballads that is also reflected in a moody and haunting rendition of Billie Holiday's Don't Explain.
Cole Porter's Love For Sale, is handled energetically as Stylles again dazzles with his deft and imaginative playing set against his terrific bandmates. Other numbers in the eclectic group of songs include Wayne Shorter's Pinnochio, with its unusual structure that the trio readily handles, and R. Kelly's It Seems Your Ready, which provides a nice late feel contrasting with the fire of the Shorter number.
Stylles original, Samba Steps, is based on the chord progression of Coltrane's Giant Steps, but handled with a Samba feel, and provides a rousing finish to one of the best organ-guitar recordings of recent times. Stylles, Bioanchi and Leathers certainly caught my ear with this recording, and I look forward to more from these three.