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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Shifting Sands

Savant SCD 2077



1. Lost And Found
2. Three/Four Miss C
3. Mojave
4. Shifting Sands
5. Track and Field
6. Step into Spring
7. But Beautiful
8. A Different Dozen
9. Willow Weep For Me

Bob DeVos - Guitar
Eric Alexander – Tenor sax (tracks 2, 5, 9)
Dan Kostelnik – Hammond B-3 organ
Steve Johns – Drums
Gary Fritz – Percussion (tracks 1, 9)

At one time the organ trio seemed to have slipped out of fashion. After its glory days (say, from the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies), the Hammond organ seemed in danger of being supplanted in popularity by the synthesizer, which could create a wider spectrum of sounds and effects – even reproducing the sounds of many other instruments. Yet now the organ trio is undergoing a revival and I, for one, welcome its resurgence. The Hammond organ seems particularly suited for straightforward, bluesy jazz. It is especially good at generating a driving rhythm from the bass pedals - and its tendency to make chords merge into one another means that many notes sound like "blue" notes.

In fact the leader here is not an organist but a guitarist – Bob DeVos, a splendidly gifted American who can swing at any tempo. He has been associated with organ groups since he succeeded Pat Martino as guitarist for organist Trudy Pitts, and he later played for the likes of Richard "Groove" Holmes, Jimmy McGriff and Charles Earland. He concentrates on single-note lines rather than chords, giving a clear structure to his solos. This clarity is evident right from the first track – a funky number with echoes of Wes Montgomery. This is one of six originals on the album written by the guitarist and encompassing a wide range of styles, including the jazz-waltz Three/Four Miss C, the brooding title track, the up-tempo Track and Field and the grooving A Different Dozen. His unaccompanied intro and sensitive solo on But Beautiful are…well, beautiful.

Tenorist Eric Alexander guests on three tracks and he is always worth hearing, especially for his adventurous forays away from what you might expect. Listen to his work on Willow Weep for Me (thankfully taken at faster than the dirge-like tempo that often afflicts this tune) and his daringly swirling solo on Three/Four Miss C.

The organist and drummer are both members of Bob DeVos’s regular trio. Steve Johns adds some electrifying drumming, doing everything necessary to keep the pot boiling, and contributing some dexterous drum solos. Organist Dan Kostelnik supplies the right sort of warmth from the Hammond B-3, although his solos sometimes lack the lucidity of DeVos’s guitar. It is often the organist who takes the limelight in an organ group but here the star is undoubtedly Bob DeVos.

Tony Augarde


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