Review: Good Merlin – The Chaz Lipp Groove Tripp

To touch the heart of club jazz, one has to be immersed in the originality and flavor of the style. It’s not enough to simply appreciate the music and to then reinterpret it as a new thing, separate from its origins. In this day and age, you’ll be hard-pressed to find practitioners of the smoky, seductive magic of old school club jazz, much like it was played and recorded. But The Chaz Lipp Groove Tripp have expressed a genuine love.

On their latest album, Good Merlin, the band is primarily led by Chaz Lipp. For this 2017 recording of classics and originals, he is joined by able musicians and vocalists that include the pure voice of Sanjara Malakar (yes, that one!), Charlie Hiestand on piano and keyboards, with a shot at bass on two tracks, the essential applications of upright bass as played by Trevor Pelletier, and drums by Chris Patin. Of course, the sexy and communicative alto saxophone as played by Chaz Lipp rounds the entire set of tracks out with its commanding sounds.

Good Merlin reaches into the revered jazz songbooks with extraordinary renditions of “God Bless The Child” by Billie Holiday, the Duke Ellington classic, “Take The ‘A’ Train” that has great covers by Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, and now Chaz Lipp (with his Groove Tripp), and others, Herbie Hancock’s more current “Watermelon Man”, and the ever popular and time-honored Carmichael/Gorrell tune, “Georgia On My Mind”. (I still get shivers listening to Richard Manual sing this track for The Band’s Islands album.)

Chaz Lipp shows a strong love for the classic genre with three original compositions (the hoppin’ “Good Merlin”, the funky (and my favorite) “Groovy Green Eyes”, and the too short soft chaotic touches of “Fly By Night” that could lead to anything.

Good Merlin is an excellent collection of music based on the love of original jazz. As such, it’s worth your time to seek out these tracks, and maybe pick up a copy of the album for yourself.