“Phil Orr & More: Live at the Off-Broadstreet Theatre” (2016)

Classic jazz piano trio grooving the ‘60s (shout-outs to Ramsey Lewis, Les McCann, Ahmad Jamal, Professor Longhair, The Peddlers), floating some tender lyricism, and riding the “A Train” & “Take Five” to fun destinations.



In the fall of 2016 this trio (featuring Michael O’Brien, bass, and Sean Dixon, drums) played two upbeat shows at the newly renovated Off-Broadstreet Theatre in Hopewell, NJ to enthusiastic audiences. Due to the ensemble’s energy and synergy, and the audience response, what started as mere reference recordings transformed into a very tasty live album.

The Tunes

Fess Up is an Orr-iginal, a tribute to NOLA’s late, great ‘Tipitina’ man, Professor Longhair (‘Fess). Contributing to the happy party groove throughout, the audience joined in clapping at the behest of Mr. Dixon in accompaniment to his funky drum solo. Sweet.

On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever) is an instrumental homage to The Peddlers, whose 1968 version was popularly revived recently through association with the AMC drama, “Breaking Bad.”

Take the ‘A’ Train is the Billy Strayhorn classic made famous as Duke Ellington’s theme song for decades. Here we strip the metrical gears of the train, moving between quadruple, triple and duple manifestations of the basic whole-note beat, sometimes separately and sometimes in combination. And sometimes intentionally!

All Blues was a request by an audience member, something we’d never played together before. No preconceptions, no discussion, and it turned out pretty nicely.

Autumn Leaves was another audience request. (Taking audience requests is something I’ve done in solo concerts for years; I hadn’t clued my confreres about this practice, it just seemed right in the moment.) Again, no group history, no preconceptions, no discussion, I started to play and away it went, once again pretty nicely.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy is the 1966 hit by (future Weather Report leader) Joe Zawinul, made popular by Zawinul as a member of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.

Something You Once Said is the second Orr-iginal on this album, a ballad in a reminiscent mood. The chromatic harmonic movement in the bridge challenges the improviser intent on creating logical melodies.

The ‘In’ Crowd was a hit for Ramsey Lewis in a 1965 live recording made with his piano trio. We pay our considerable respects.