Review by Brad Walseth
Hammond B-3 organist Vince Seneri's nickname, given him by his peers, is "The Prince." Considering that Jimmy Smith was the King of the B-3, such a moniker might suggest a player with an overblown reputation and enormous ego to boot, but amazingly in this case the name suits the man to a tee. Seneri is a player oozing with style and skill, and this new recording (The Prince's Groove), featuring players like Randy Brecker, Dave Valentin and Houston Person is an absolute must have for fans of organ jazz.
"Renegade Man," one of five Seneri originals sets the tone immediately with its smile-inducing groove. Veteran drummer Buddy Williams lays down the beat, with help from percussionist Gary Fritz (and on some tracks Richie Flores), while guitarist Paul Bollenback comps. Seneri's organ percolates happily like a fresh pot of Joe in the morning, while trumpeter Brecker and Bollenback add vibrant solos. The Mercer/Kern standard "Dearly Beloved" follows with some exceptional up-tempo band interplay that will keep your toes tapping. Bollenback proves a worthy foil for his leader as both provide some blazing solo work on this number, which also features Williams' impressive drumming. Meanwhile, the mambo "Sway (Quien Sera)," made most famous by crooner Dean Martin, shows these artists are quite at home within the Latin genre, with Valentin's dancing flute gracing this lilting tune.
Lest you think all will lapse into peace and tranquility, another blazing Seneri original, "The Stinger," digs a mile deep groove over which Brecker blows some burning licks. Of course Seneri and Bollenback join in the fun, and I forgot to mention the outstanding work by the bass player. Oh yeah - there isn't one - Seneri's foot pedals fill all the bass lines in manner in which most bassists would be proud to claim their own.
Another version of one of my favorites, "The Nearness of You" show the band in ballad territory, and showcases the exceptional melodic gifts of the underrated Houston Person on tenor sax. An outstanding choice of a guest artist who truly understands how to make his instrument sing on this quite pleasing take on the Hoagy Carmichael/Ned Washington chestnut. I'd love to hear more of this combination in the future.
"Overdrive" again shows Seneri's talents at writing uptempo groove based music. While "Prince's Groove" is a bit slower, but tasty funk nonetheless. The Latin-influenced "Passion Dance" pairs Valentin's flute with Brecker's flugelhorn - a marvelous combination indeed on this satisfying composition. Finally, an organ trio (plus percussion) version of the oft-recorded "Walkin'" (attributed to sleazy producer Richard Carpenter, but in reality written by Jimmy Mundy, Gene Ammons or Miles himself) brings things back to basics to close this delightful and highly enjoyable outing by an organ master who deserves to be given the Prince's due.