Nigel Price Organ Trio 25 July 2015, Kings Place

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In Michael Chabon’s 2012 novel Telegraph Avenue, the fictitious jazz guru Cochise Jones is tragically killed when his Hammond organ slips out of the boot of his car and squashes him. Thankfully no such accidents occurred during the Nigel Price Organ Trio gig on Saturday night at Kings Place. There was, however, organ failure of a different kind when the group’s original 1963 Hammond B3 gave up the ghost, just as the first boogaloo bars of their final number Mozambique began. Maybe this had been presaged a few songs earlier by a mournful reading of Angel Eyes – “uplifting in a miserable way” as Price put it.

This was a highly polished performance from Price and his trio. Regular organist Ross Stanley was absent this evening and in his place 23-year-old Jamie Safiruddin was a hive of activity on stage right. Safiruddin wasn’t afraid to let his solos unfold gradually before cooking up a storm. He clicked naturally with Matt Home on drums, and the pair shone in Stealing Time, Nigel Price’s reworking of the standard Speak Low.  

Price himself was on great form, with some of the evening’s best moments coming from his solo introductions. Evoking the spirit of Wes Montgomery, Price always seems to have another phrase waiting up his sleeve, and a formidable technique allows him to realise his most daring inventions. His virtuosic prologue to Herb Ellis’s Detour Ahead proved a highlight.

Many of the trio’s frames of reference come from the early 1960’s golden age of the organ trio, with nods to greats such as Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff. However, Price’s talent for reworking the chord changes of standards with new melodies gives the group renewed relevance today. All In saw his own tune fitted over the harmonies of Body and Soul: a line traced from past to present.

Jon Carvell