John Novello: Salt and Pepper


Salt and Pepper


John Novello


B3 Soul (NuGroove/NoGo 2028-2)

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John Novello (Hammond B3, piano, keyboards, bass and drum programming)


Composed by John Novello. Arrangement by John Novello


Recorded: Valley Village, CA, date not given. Released March 2009


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Novello is best known as the organist for the invigorating fusion/progressive rock power trio Niacin, which also features bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Dennis Chambers. His new CD, B3 Soul, is much more restrained than what he has generally produced with Niacin, and focuses largely on soul and funk. Novello has always been an upbeat, emotional communicator with an appealingly full-bodied sound and chops to spare, but he seems under wraps on this CD.

Novello gets into what he calls a "pocket groove" on the track "Salt and Pepper." He plays the funky theme on organ, but shifts briefly to synthesizer before his unhurried, soulful B3 improv. He then surprises by turning to acoustic piano, which he plays with just as much flair and finesse as he does the organ. Following his radiant piano interlude, he moves back and forth seamlessly and divertingly between piano and organ, before a fade-out ending that comes much too soon. Novello's programmed rhythm section backing comes across as a bit too stiff and mechanical for the genre, diminishing the overall effect of "Salt and Pepper." A press release states, "Novello looks forward to touring 'B3 Soul' with an all-star band." It would have been nice to have heard at least a couple of those living musicians supporting Novello on this selection.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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