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offBEAT Review June, 2002

Joe Krown Organ Combo
(STR Digital)

  Fans of instrumental classic soul jazz and organ-based blues music will love this new release from pianist, organist and composer Joe Krown, a transplanted New Yorker who's been making his home in the Crescent City for the last dozen or so years. Outside of New Orleans, Krown is best known as the organist in Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's phenomenal band, Gate's Express. But in town, when he's not on the road with the ever-peripatetic Brown and Co., he's known for his work with the Joe Krown Organ Combo.
Krown and band interpret just one cover tune on this album, "Ode To Billy Joe," but it's a magnificent reworking of a classic tune long associated with the rural south. "Ode To Billy Joe" is punctuated by several stellar guitar, saxophone and organ solos. This is all on top of a bed laid down by Krown's stop-on-a-dime rhythm section that includes drummer Mike Barras and bassist Bob Sunda. That all of the other tunes are originals is ample proof of Krown's prodigious skills as a composer in the classic blues and soul-jazz vein. The music swings from the get-go with the title track "Funkyard," and gets progressively funkier as the disc makes its way over to tracks three and four, "Funky JK," and "Eat Your Greens." By the time we hear "Ode To Billy Joe" and "Bafoozled," Krown's twin pair of Leslie amps are screaming, and so is the rest of the band. This is a group of seasoned musicians who know how to play as an ensemble and how to lock into a groove tighter than a pit bull on the mailperson's leg!

Wailing saxophone treatments, fiery guitar playing and Krown's usual brilliant, tasteful organ playing are all over this album. Krown and company have all the bases covered with "Funkyard": it will delight fans of Hammond B-3, fans of blues, and fans of classic soul-jazz.

-Richard J. Skelly offBEAT Magazine

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