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Organ Fairchild: Leisure Suit
(Independent release as broadcast on WVIA-FM 11/1/2023)
Jam bands have come in various flavors over the years. The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band popularized improvisational rock nearly a half-century ago, but a generation followed in the 1990s, with groups such as Phish, The String Cheese Incident, Moe and Umphrey’s McGee. Some groups are jazzier than others, some emphasize the songs and lyrics, while others basically create an atmosphere for their fans to partake in one way or another. This week, we have an instrumental, keyboard-oriented trio who have released their second album. They call themselves Organ Fairchild, and their new release is called Leisure Suit.
Organ Fairchild are from Buffalo, NY, and their association goes back a long way. The three members, keyboard man Joe Bellanti, guitarist Dave Ruch, and drummer Corey Kertzie met in 1983 and have played in a long running Grateful Dead cover band called Wild Knights. For 37 years the trio played covers, before in 2020, they decided to create original material. This was right before the pandemic shutdown, so there were put out of commission for performances as so many bands were. But in 2021, the group started attracting more attention, opening for or sharing the stage with the likes of the Trey Anastasio band, Umphrey’s McGee, and Goose. That year, they won an award for Best New York State emerging band from NYS Music. Since then they have been touring, mostly around the Northeast. The band’s format, with keyboards, drums and guitar, evokes Booker T and the MGs, from back in the 1960s, and they take a similar soul-funk direction. Organ Fairchild’s music is definitely old-school in their instrumentation. About the only acknowledgment to more contemporary sounds is very analog-sounding synthesizer on one track.
The material is surprisingly wide-ranging in sound and style. There’s plenty of soul and funk influence, but they can get into more laid-back material, some more guitar-oriented jams, evoking the Allman Brothers Band, and some of their music gets into the realm of jazz-rock fusion. Drummer Kertzie and guitarist Ruch each contributes tunes to the album, and there is one cover of a Grateful Dead tune.
Opening is the title track Leisure Suit by guitarist Ruch, which is a kind of mixture of Motown soul and Allman Brothers Band style guitar. <<>>
Ruch also contributed the composition called Chameleonious Monk which runs more toward the electric funk of groups like Sly and the Family Stone. <<>>
Drummer Kertzie’s compositions tend to be a bit more jazzy. His tune called Morning Coffee builds to an energetic crescendo as the piece evolves, making it one of the highlights of the album. <<>>
The band’s Grateful Dead cover on the album is a tune called He’s Gone in which Organ Fairchild keeps the spirit of the Dead alive, though instrumentally. <<>>
The other of drummer Kertzie’s compositions, called Glad You’re Here is also multifaceted, with a kind of soul riff going into off into jazzier territory. <<>> Keyboard man Bellanti brings out a very retro synthesizer sound for his solo. <<>>
The Woodturner is a composition by Dave Ruch that heads in a more laid-back direction, but you can still dance ot it. <<>>
A track called Over the Handlebars by Dave Ruch was inspired by a bicycle accident, in which he broke his elbow. The tune depicts riding along smoothly until the crash. <<>>
The album ends with a group improvisation called Rusty Barge in which recording engineer Justin Guip, plays around with effects units on the guitar, and the band goes to town exploiting the spaciness. <<>>
Leisure Suit the new second album by the Buffalo, NY, trio Organ Fairchild, is a worthwhile jam band recording, with the keyboards playing a more prominent role than the usual guitar-oriented jam band mold. Like a lot of jam band material, the compositions are not strong on memorable melodies you can go around humming, but they keep a tight groove, while expanding to both more contemplative material and jazz-rock fusion influence. It’s nicely done, and the flow of the album, with the different styles, keeps it from getting boring.
Our grade for audio quality is close to an “A” with the sound fairly clean and punchy.
You may wonder if, in these litigious times whether the actress Morgan Fairchild, might object to the band’s name and sue. But it turns out that there is a video on the band’s website of a shout-out by Morgan Fairchild to the band Organ Fairchild. So she’s cool with it. Their music may not be particularly innovative, but Organ Fairchild the band serves up some good time sounds, with a decent helping of class.
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