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Brian Auger's Oblivion Express

Monday, October 6, at Nighttown.


You'd never guess that Brian Auger's been at it for close to forever from Voices of Other Times, a strong 2000 release by his Oblivion Express. The man is a master of the Hammond B-3 organ, up there with Johnny "Hammond" Smith and Brother Jack McDuff. Light of touch, lightning-fast, and feverishly improvisatory, Auger has made the Express a family affair, his son Karma working the drums and production, while daughter Savannah turns in sultry, groovy vocals. The tunes are unabashedly utopian and colorblind: "Circles" could be a Stevie Wonder outtake, while "It Burns Me Up" evokes the hopefulness and anger of the '60s. The album pays homage to Marcus Miller by updating his "Splatch," from Miles Davis's Tutu. It also updates "Indian Rope Man," a slinky gem from Streetnoise, a great double album Auger and Express predecessor the Trinity recorded with the sulky mod songstress Julie Driscoll in 1969.

On the scene for four decades, this extraordinary British funkster comes to Night Town this week for the third time in two years. People who have passed through his Express workshop include Average White Band/McCartney alumnus Robbie McIntosh, session drummer Steve Ferrone, and Alex Ligertwood, a singer who also has worked with Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck. This album -- committed, contemporary jazz blues with a political bent -- helps explain his popularity and proves that the Auger genes are musical indeed.

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