A Bit Of Good News At a Grim Time

On a day when Tracy and I have received nothing but bad news about the present and flat out grim news about the near future, it was very pleasant to receive some unexpected GOOD news just now. Namely, we belatedly learned that the King Louie Organ Trio's debut CD, "It's About Time," received a rave review in the top French jazz magazine back in February. ("Jazz Hot" is, in fact, the world's oldest jazz magazine--founded in 1935.) Pretty cool! 

King Louie Organ Trio 

Frances J., Brulie, Two Leons in New Orleans, Bry-Yen / Believe in You, Teener, Big Brothers, Island Girl, Chester McGriff, Marty Boy, Mel Brown, Blues for Merle, Lupus Tylericus, Blues for Pierre 

Louis Pain (org), Renato Caranto (ts), Edwin Coleman III (dm, perc) + Bruce Conte, Dan Faehnle (eg), Mel Brown (dm) 
Recorded January 7, 8 and February 18, 2019, Portland, OR 
Duration: 1h 02 ’56’ ’ 
Shoug Records (www.louispain.com) 

The different local scenes in the United States are full of good musicians who, although often enjoying real notoriety in their city or state, are completely unknown to us in Europe. It’s always a pleasure when, thanks to a record release, we have the opportunity to discover artists who, for years, have brought jazz to life without much media coverage. This is the case of the organist Louis Pain (in his sixties) who has been a leader of the Oregon jazz scene for almost thirty-five years. 

Originally from San Francisco, where he began his career in 1970 with musicians from jazz, funk, rock or gospel, he moved to Portland in 1986. He performed there with figures from the region, notably the bluesman Paul deLay (hca, voc, 1952-2007) and the soul singer Linda Hornbuckle (1954-2014). A sideman very active with touring musicians, like Bernard Purdie, dm, Pain also founded, under the name of King Louie, a first group with James E. Benton, aka Sweet Baby James (voc, 1930-2006), also nicknamed "Ray Charles of Portland." Later, he teamed up with blues singer LaRhonda Steele on the album “Rock Me Baby,” which was released in 2015 on his own label, Shoug Records. 

Today, we discover Louis Pain through his latest album, “It’s About Time,” recorded in trio, with two other local musicians of around the same age. Filipino by birth, tenor saxophonist Renato Caranto has lived in Portland since 1992. He is used to "King Louie" projects, and he accompanied Esperanza Spalding on tour in 2013. As for Edwin Coleman III, he comes from a family of musicians (his mother even sang with Lionel Hampton!). A versatile drummer with a predominance of funk, he has participated in various gospel, Afro-Cuban, blues and jazz groups. 

It's the whole varied background of the three musicians and their guests that you can find on “It’s About Time.” Made up of 13 originals, practically all by Louis Pain, they are dedicated, we learn from the booklet, to those close to the musicians, or even to some of them, such as the composition "Mel Brown" which evokes the great admiration that Louis Pain and Renato Caranto have for this drummer with whom they have performed every Thursday evening for twenty years. Mel Brown (1944), present on a third of the disc, is a veritable institution in Portland where he has been honored by the authorities several times. His career, started in 1967, went through Motown studios as well as successive tours with pop stars, in particular Diana Ross until 1991. At the same time, since 1978 Brown has led several jazz bands in his hometown and remains extremely dynamic today. 

“It’s About Time” is characterized by a very present groove, established from the first song, "Frances J." The same jazz-funk spirit animates all the pieces, from blues (“Lupus Tylericus” on which Renato Caranto reveals a beautiful intensity) or soul (“Bry-Yen / Believe in You”), on up to evocations of Jimmy Smith's jazz—the excellent “Big Brothers” and “Marty Boy”—which allow you to appreciate the qualities of the leader. A discovery… 

Jérôme Partage 
© Jazz Hot

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