John Ginty – No Filter (2015)

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John Ginty hadn’t worked with just ordinary rock, blues and country musicians, because John Ginty is no ordinary keyboardist. This regular contributor to Keyboard Magazine was a founding member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band and has also toured and/or recorded with Santana, Ron Sexsmith, Allman Brothers, Los Lonely Boys and Dixie Chicks.

He’s enough of a star in his own right to go solo, and he launched that career in 2013 with Bad News Travels. That record featured many of the luminaries he’s served as a sideman to, including Albert Castiglia, Warren Haynes and Neal Casal. This year he’s back with No Filter, one where he’s honed his songwriting skills with more rooted, murky shadings. His B3 playing? There was no room for improvement there.

No Filter, a blend of instrumental and vocal tracks, has its share of guest performers, too, primarily to help out on the singing selections. The names aren’t as big but they do the job more than good enough. Ginty’s outsized personality on the veritable Hammond B3 organ is matched up well with strong vocal personalities, most obviously with Alexis P. Suter’s devastating gospel/blues roar on “Old Shoes,” an instance where Ginty opts for a strident barroom piano (Ginty appeared on Suter’s record the prior year). Cris Jacobs’ soothing croon suits the Santana-styled blues-rock of “Ball of Fire,” and even the guitar lead evokes Carlos. Cara Kelly delivers a Beth Hart kind of soul-blues belting for “Battlegrounds” and with lap steel master Suter bandmate Jimmy Bennett on the side works up to a wrenching climax.

The focal point remains on Ginty and his roiling Hammond, however, and this album would be remiss without some instrumentals to allow him to fully show us what he’s got. Ginty, to be clear, is an organist in the rock/blues mold, not a jazz organist playing non-jazz songs, and even within that vein, he isn’t your typical one. His is a dominant sound — with heaping helpings of soul and a dramatic flair — and he knows how to conceive melodies that exploit it. The opener “Fredo,” with his big, bodacious B3 is a nocturnal stomp that belongs on a Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack. His soaring performance on “Elevators” is an out-and-out tour-de-force.

“Fredo” is reprised at the end, a remix featuring the rapping of hip hop star Redman. It’s Ginty’s nod to the present and future music scene after he’s done so much on this album to breathe fresh life into its rootsier past.

Since there was no new music by Ginty’s former band Robert Randolph and The Family Band music this year, John Ginty’s No Filter confidently serves as the next best thing. On second thought, let’s just remove the word “next”. Ginty did more than just make a keyboard record by a keyboard guy; he’s made a well-rounded roots rock record that’s of the caliber of Randolph, The Black Keys or the Tedeschi-Trucks Band.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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