Brian Charette – Once & Future (2016)

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feature photo: Anna Yatskevich

While unboxing guitarist Will Bernard’s delightful latest offering Out & About a few months ago, it was impossible not to rave on the key contributions of his combo’s organist Brian Charette. Charette has regularly put in stellar supporting roles whether it’s for Posi-Tone Records stablemates like Bernard or any jazz leader of note in need of some maximal Hammond B3.

And that speaks nothing of Charette’s playing when Charette is in charge of the sessions: he once had the audacity to put his organ alongside four horn players (Music For Organ Sextette) that ended up being one of the most inspired organ jazz record in recent years.

Once & Future (Posi-Tone, June 3, 2016) doesn’t reach for such levels of risk-taking but it does offer the occasion of hearing Charette again trading licks with Bernard, only with the leader/sideman roles reversed. No horns this time as Charette’s group is reduced to the tried-and-true organ/guitar trio (Steve Fidyk brings the drums). As a noted educator of the B3 (he writes instructional books and articles, conducts masterclasses and teaches at workshops), Once & Future can be thought of as a ‘clinic’ record where he touches on many of the various techniques of the jazz organ as well as many shades of sub-styles, from Jimmy Smith to Larry Young. In keeping, only three of these fourteen tunes are his and many of the rest might be familiar to you. They may also titillate with Charette’s manner by which he carries these songs.

He begins paying homage to perhaps the original organ jazz great, Fats Waller; “Jitterbug Waltz” is a 3/4 swing that might be common in mainstream jazz but for some reason isn’t done as often where an organ is involved. At least not with the lilting grace that Charette seems to do so effortlessly. But he can get funky like the best of them, too: Jack McDuff’s “Hot Barbeque” captures the fun of the original’s boogaloo. Charette’s take on James Brown’s “Ain’t It Funky Now” evokes Grant Green’s, but his nasty solo is actually a nod to the late Deep Purple organ giant Jon Lord.

Homage to Young is played on a number written by Woody Shaw, “Zoltan,” which had launched Young’s masterpiece album, Unity. Charette’s solo here is astonishing, he picks up where Young left off and takes it higher. Bud Powell of course wasn’t an organist, he was bop’s most important pianist. But Charette takes on his “Dance of the Infidels” with the right bright attitude and of course, that swing. Jimmy Smith’s “Mellow Mood” is undertaken with Charette not so much recalling Smith as the exotica expressions of Korla Pandit, a twist that like everything else Charette attempts in these sessions, lands on its feet.

“Latin From Manhattan” (streamed above) is Charette’s own samba and he also contributes the blues shuffle “Blues For 96.”

Bernard wasn’t brought on to be a bystander and he delivers tasty blows on Larry Young’s “Tyrone,” goes on one mean blues streak for “96” and gets it square in the pocket for “Ain’t It Funky Now.” Fidyk was given a tall task to pivot from swing to funk to Latin to Elvin Jones’ unique polyrhythmic swing on “Zoltan,” and is never less than rock steady.

Brian Charette gave aspiring jazz organists a lot to chew on with Once & Future but as is evident from my thoughts above, you don’t have to be a student of the instrument to appreciate this record. It’s the perfect record for aspiring (and accomplished) organ-jazz listeners as well.

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,, 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
S. Victor Aaron
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