jazz trio with strong pulse

Java Men (Java)
Java Men

By John Goodin

You may have heard the Java Men serving up their steaming hot, jazz organ-trio blend at various local venues. If you stayed for longer than one cup you should buy this tape. If you have not had the chance to hear them live, this is your opportunity to sample their tasteful brand of Louisville jazz.

Todd Hildreth (keys), Craig Wagner (guitar) and Ray Rizzo (drums, percussion) have recently released a cassette that is well-written and well-played. (Mike Ferraraccio also plays drums on two cuts.) All the tunes are either Hildreth or Wagner originals and provide excellent springboards for their generous solo improvisations.

This is clearly a players' group, and the soloing is not careful, boring or safe. Risks are taken with regularity, and occasionally, someone gets a little too far out on a limb. For me, this makes the tape more enjoyable. These are not ancient "Masters" from New York playing flawless versions of bebop standards, but young musicians who obviously enjoy what they are doing. Living jazz, not museum jazz.

Check out Wagner's "Joy", on side one, if you have any doubts. From the mesmerizing guitar intro to the dynamite solos, this tune works great. There's some real music happening here and anyone can tell.

If you want some swinging organ trio music or some happening improvisational playing -- or if you're just one of those folks who is always saying that Louisville ought to support its local jazz scene more -- here is your chance. Maybe more of our excellent local jazz musicians will be encouraged to follow the lead of Java Men and produce some of their own music as well.