In a blistering set of experimental jazz with organ bonanza, the Alex Nauman Organ Trio dropped tunes from the new disk on a robust crowd at the Railyard on Saturday night.
The party was in celebration of the release of the group’s first album, “Loud Lullabies.” The trio appeared small onstage, but their sound was robust. They followed a set of tunes from the new album with an onstage musical collaboration that continued to add local talents until the stage was overflowing with musicians.
Parker Brown took slapped around his bass with Nauman gigging along. Matt Rogers (who opened the set with the S.O.B.s) joined the mix on guitar, and Gy Moody was the last to take the stage, at first holding the mic for organ player Erik Olson as he wailed on sax, then belting out the only vocals of the group’s set.
Nauman, Edwards and Olson make up the Alex Nauman Organ Trio. Their debut album “Loud Lullabies” features 10 tunes—all originals except for a cover of a Santana song from the late 70s. The experiential trio formed in November 2009. They rest on that bleeding edge of jazz development, pushing the boundaries of contemporary jazz. “Loud Lullabies” illustrates the group’s ability to blend heavy influences from rock and funk while melding harmony with distorted guitar sounds and plenty of wailing organ.
A range of musicians influence Nauman’s song writing, including old school jazz musicians such as Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass, as well as the modern jazz guitarist Bill Frizzell. Yet Nauman’s tastes don’t rest solely in jazz. Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, the Parliament Funkadelic, Bob Marley, and others inspire Nauman, and he said he works to blend those influences into the Organ Trio.
“There is a stigma that jazz is stuck in the 50s,” Nauman said. “The top jazz recordings of 2010 are not like Dave Brubeck, Glenn Miller, or other big band stuff.”
Nauman said he gets made fun of for being a jazz guitarist, and though people’s misconceptions irritate him, he works to change their perceptions. “The thing that I like about rock and try to implement from other styles is a big, forceful sound, like when you listen to a Hendrix track. It just hits you in the face, and that is what people may not realize when they listen to, say, a Coltrane album.”
Nauman’s job is music, so he performs with ECQ, the Tiny Trio, Funk in the Trunk, and the Bozeman-based Big Caboose and the Soul Penetrators. He also plays plenty of cover music for gigs and wedding. He describes the Organ Trio as his primal outlet.
“(The Alex Nauman Organ Trio) is really focused on what I want to do as a writer and a guitar player from an artistic standpoint,” Nauman said. He describes the Trio’s focus as advancing them as musicians, “and not worrying if people can understand and dance to it,” he said.
Though he’s not focused on people’s perceptions of his music, Nauman did say, “If people dig it, that is the coolest thing that could happen to me.”