By Hrayr Attarian
Brian Charette - Hammond B3 organ
Itai Kriss- Flute
Mike DiRubbo- Alto saxophone
Kenny Brooks- Tenor saxophone
Karel Ruzicka- Bass clarinet
Brian Fishler- Drums
Brian Charette is an undisputed master of the Hammond B3 organ, he is also a skilled bandleader and an inventive composer. On the spirited and enjoyable Power from the Air, Charette leads his sextet through eight of his catchy originals and two standards infused with his dynamic style. The ensemble is an augmented version of the traditional organ trio, with four woodwinds, instead of one, joining Charette and drummer Brian Fishler.
The cohesiveness of the group and its inner synergy is on full display throughout. From the opening notes of “Fried Birds” to the closing ones of “Low Tide” the momentum does not slack. The energetic refrains of the former include brief individual interludes that emerge from the simmering collective sound. The latter is more languid yet no less passionate. Charette’s expressive and muscular lines form a harmonic core around which the reedmen take turns with brief and charming solos.
Each musician is given ample opportunity to display his talents throughout this captivating album. The soulful title track, for instance, features altoist Mike DiRubbo’s agile and wistful spontaneous phrases that flow effortlessly over Charette and Fishler’s swaggering groove. Flutist Itai Kriss showcases his clear, warm tone on an intricate and logical performance. Bass clarinetist Karel Ruzicka and tenorist Kenny Brooks also expand on the main theme with hints of melancholy and plenty of eloquence.
The classic “Cherokee”, is one of the highlights of this uniformly superb release with its orchestral introduction and creative extemporizations. Charette demonstrates his impressive virtuosity as he deconstructs the piece with deftness and elegance putting on it his unique mark. Ruzicka takes off with an exuberant and creative soliloquy while Brooks and DiRubbo contribute fiery and suave improvisations that contrast with and complement one another. Kriss’ acrobatic, blues tinged, embellishments of the melody lead to Fishler’s thunderous polyrhythms that usher in the conclusion.
As with all his work Power from the Air is accessible without sacrificing artistic integrity. The memorable tunes with their vibrant and diverse motifs, the superb artistry of all involved and the whimsy with which the band interprets this delightful music make for a highly enjoyable listening experience.