Matthew Kaminski is a jazz organist with an interesting ‘day job’, he plays the stadium organ for the Atlanta Braves, supplying all the well known baseball ballpark clichés that are as a much a part of the game’s tradition as the seventh inning stretch. On his new album, “Live at Churchill Grounds”, Matthew and his quartet play the music they are known for playing at jazz clubs, funky soul-jazz and swingin hard bop grooves. Kaminski displays the sort of Jimmy Smith/Groove Holmes type riffs we expect from a soul-jazz B3 player, but he also shows some influence from Hammond based jazz rockers like Tom Coster and Brian Auger. Matthew is a great soloist, but he is almost upstaged by the fiery tenor work of Will Scruggs, a great blues based player in the Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington tradition. They are also joined by vocalist Kimberly Gordon for about half the set.
This CD opens strong with a lengthy jam on the Beach Boy’s “Sail on Sailor”, which is followed by their top track, a James Brown influenced up-tempo funk number called “Hot Dog”. “Midnight Special” follows with another blues groove, and then its time for Kimberly to join the band for the next six tracks. Kimberly is a remarkable singer with a strong personality, Kurt Elling calls her “the ultimate swing lovers singer”, but the music definitely changes when she joins the band. With Gordon in front of the quartet, the high energy funkiness is replaced with a more easy going swing feel, which is a more suitable backing for her vocals. The solos from the instrumentalists are also much briefer during the vocal numbers. After Kimberly’s six numbers, the band closes with a Jack McDuff classic, “A Real Goodun”.
In many ways, the instrumental and vocal tracks on here almost seem like two different bands. If you are looking for the one-two punch of Kaminski’s B3 and Kimberly’s vocals, then you have come to the right place, but if you want to hear only Matthew’s B3 chops, then you might want to check out one of his earlier studio albums. On an interesting side note, Kaminski also has an album out where he plays popular baseball stadium clichés on a ballpark Hammond, a great album for people looking for classic samples in that tradition.