Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ben Paterson: For Once in My Life

Origin Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: For Once in My Life

Those who are familiar with Ben Paterson probably know him as a pianist; he has released three albums on that instrument. This one, however, is his first on the Hammond B3 organ.

Paterson was born in Philadelphia in 1982, and he quickly began playing the piano, studying both classical and jazz. After graduating from the Settlement Music School, he enrolled at the University of Chicago; a year later, he was performing with NEA Jazz Master Von Freeman. That association lasted until Freeman’s death in 2012, at which point Paterson moved to New York City, to further his musical career.

He soon began working with artists such as Bobby Broom, Red Holloway and guitarist Peter Bernstein (who, with drummer George Fludas, is a member of the trio featured on this release). Paterson’s reputation grew rapidly; he joined groups that opened for the likes of B.B. King and Steely Dan, among others. Paterson also played at the 2006, ’09 and ’13 Chicago Jazz Fests; the 2007, ’08 and ’11 Chicago Blues Fests; and the 2010 Montreal Jazz Festival.  

So, how does he do on the B3? Quite well, thank you. In fact, he’s several rungs up that ladder, above any jazz organist I’ve hear lately. You’ll immediately notice Paterson’s touch; he’s soft and gentle, and, as a result, gets an expressive melodic line. For reasons unknown, too many organists use the instrument more like a cannon than a pistol; as a result, the surrounding instruments tend increase their volume, to make sure they’re heard.

Paterson’s second attribute is keyboard dexterity. The organ is larger and arranged differently than a piano, making it more difficult to navigate at increased tempos (which also has an effect on volume). 

Finally, Paterson has a marvelous ability to create — and play — inventive and melodic lines: a must  for a jazz artist.

He also swings quite nicely, and you’ll definitely groove right along.

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