Three Man Soul Machine – 3 By 3

There’s always been something special about the sound 60’s soul-jazz records and how they’ve been recorded. Maybe it’s the greasy organs, or is the drums that I love so much? Either way, in the last decade alone, there have been some incredible releases and the latest by Three Man Soul Machine definitely adds on to the already hefty collection and daily rotation.

Back with their first studio recording since 2018’s Valentine’s EP, Three Man Soul Machine bring three original tunes that are sure to get your toes tapping and your soul stirring. On ‘3 By 3’, Scott Schoem (organ) is introduced to the lineup of Frank Mitchell (sax) and Lee Durham (drums). The trio has crafted a sound rooted in funky soul-jazz and honed it over weekly and monthly pre-pandemic gigs around the Washington DC area.

‘Earl Place’ opens the set with a solid groove that lays the foundation for some nice blowing from Schoem and Mitchell, with Mitchell quoting some famous funk licks. The track culminates on a drum break with off-kilter hits that showcases the fact that 3MSM is always keeping the listener on its toes.

Next is ‘One Inch Punch’, named for the martial arts move that made Bruce Lee famous. This tune is not in the ‘hit it and quit it’ vibe though. Built on a slightly afrobeat groove, ‘One Inch Punch’ has sparseness on its side, as it takes its time to deliver maximum damage.

The in-the-pocket funky ‘Shirley & Stanley’ closes out ‘3 By 3’ by taking a bit of a gospel turn. Medium paced, soulful soloing takes place as Schoem and Mitchell trade, as if the classic couple, Shirley Scott and Stanley Turrentine, were having a loving conversation.

‘3 By 3’ establishes Three Man Soul Machine as one of the premier organ groups of the 21st Century, carrying the funky mantle from artists of the 60s through today.