Tom Keenlyside: Third Street Wobble

w/ Brad Turner trumpet, Chris Gestrin B3 organ, Tristan Paxton guitar, & Joe Poole drums

Tom Keenlyside: Third Street Wobble

Tenor saxophonist Tom Keenlyside's album Third Street Wobble features a quintet of Brad Turner on trumpet, Chris Gestrin on keys, Tristan Paxton on guitar, and Joe Poole on drums. The title refers to the New Westminster street that's one block away from where my parents were living when I was born; the cover art includes the street sign from the Queen's Park neighbourhood.

This organ trio is the same one that Jon Bentley is playing with. Keenlyside and Bentley are quite different saxophonists from adjacent generations, each able to make you enjoy their unique characteristics if you heard them back-to-back. Keenlyside's tone is full steam ahead, played loud with vigour. and though his phrases might occasionally leave a smooth taste at the end, he'll never shortchange you with his concept and the calibre of players he invites. Cue the addition of Turner's trumpet into the mix; you know it's going to be a good time.

Gestrin's organ playing is precise, thoughtful, and idiomatic. It speaks to what you might hear when he plays the music of Shirley Scott at the jazzfest coming up. And Turner, you know it's him from a few notes, he's all over it. He engages with Poole's drums vividly, especially on his own original called "Glass Slipper" – another title dedicated to a place, like the album title.

Keenlyside could fill dozens of albums with tunes titled after places he's played. It's his track here called "Tuesday at the Galata Tower", it's his previous album A Night at the Espresso. I heard "Galata" and the other track "Fables of Festus" at Jazz at the Bolt, when Keenlyside debuted this music in Room 103.

"Bunky" is raw hard bop — guitar in the left, organ in the right — and wild shout lines. "Times Like These" is a classic organ joint, kind of like Peter Bernstein and Larry Goldings' work. Is "Note to Self" the only ballad? That's what I thought when I hit that track, but never mind, it was just the intro and then kicked into gear.

"Gumboot Gumbo" is a Second Line blues credited to Gestrin. Paxton's guitar has more rounded edges than the rest of the ensemble; he can be a sensitive player like that. He can rip a solo too, but here he provides a lot of steady comping. The drum production sometimes slaps hard and gets squeezed a bit to mix with the ensemble, yet the drums are constantly alert in conversation – that's Joe Poole. That's what he does night after night.

These are pros. You get the sense that they're the kind of musicians who love to amuse each other on the bandstand. Third Street Wobble is an upbeat presentation like a high-octane live set at a club; it’s from the tradition of Kenny Dorham and Benny Golson, Donald Byrd and Hank Mobley on the front line.

But then on "Red Herring", the guitar is slightly distorted over washing cymbals. It's one of my favorite sounds that the ensemble gets to. This record is made with a hip listener in mind and an artistic fun and fulfillment at the center. Indeed, the label listed on Keenlyside's streaming distribution is "Artist Jazz Recordings".

Many little arrangement excitements and details are tossed in along the way to make a fine brew. Something that isn't among the additions is Keenlyside's strong flute playing, though you'll likely get that if you hear Keenlyside play at Frankie's on Saturday, May 18th. He'll bring not this quintet, but a quartet with Tilden Webb, Jodi Proznick, and Nicholas Bracewell (who often joins him on drums in another band called Organ.ic Chemistry).

Third Street Wobble cover
Design: Len Rooney

released March 15, 2024 / Buy digital (Qobuz) / Available on streaming