Formed in 2005, The Skinny became a band in the wake of bassist Jake Vinsel’s inspired association with the legendary James Brown funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield. Guitarist Kyle Asche, one of the most active guitarists on Chicago’s rich Hammond Organ trio scene, brought influence and repertoire from Grant Green, George Benson and Melvin Sparks to the band. Mike Schlick, a longtime cornerstone of Chicago’s vibrant Blues and Jazz scenes alike, came with an unmistakable “old school” backbeat as well as a deep understanding of the music of The Meters and Booker T & The MG’s. Organist Ben Paterson has been at the side of the legendary Chicago tenor saxophonist Von Freeman for almost a decade. In addition to his elegant and swinging piano style, Paterson is a force to be reckoned with on the B-3 organ. As student of Chicago’s own Hammond Organ wizard Chris Foreman, Paterson absorbed much of the sound, style and repertoire of the legendary Jimmy McGriff.
With Ben Paterson manning the Hammond B-3, Kyle Asche on guitar, Jake Vinsel on bass and Mike Schlick on drums, the four kindred spirits collectively known as The Skinny have come up with their own personal spin on the soul-jazz tradition. Carrying on in the spirit of Jimmy McGriff, Boogaloo Joe Jones and Grant Green, they also reveal the influences of James Brown, The Meters and Booker T & The MGs along the way. Suffice it to say, these Chicago-based groovemeisters know how to lay it down and slap some bacon fat on it.
While the members of The Skinny remains active on Chicago’s rich straight ahead jazz scene, they reserve their funkiest tendencies for this cooperative quartet, which forged its indelible chemistry during a longstanding residency at Pete Miller’s, a popular steak house in Evanston where many up and coming jazz musicians and veterans alike have held forth over the years. “We started that gig in 2006 and had a steady engagement there for five years,” says guitarist Asche. “The vast majority of stuff we recorded was what we had been playing every week there, so we could just go in the studio and hit and not have to worry about sussing out arrangements or reading charts.”
—Bill Milkowski is a contributor to Jazz Times. He is also the co-author of “Here And Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino” (Backbeat Books)
The dictionary of slang defines the skinny as “inside information” as in “is that the straight dope?” The musical collective known as The Skinny seems to have found its version of this definition with their debut release entitled Dig On It.
Harking back to the soul-jazz styling of Jimmy McGriff and Grant Green among others, these Chicago-based musicians have brought their “A” game to a fifteen-track set of mostly originals from various members of the band, along with several covers from the soul-jazz era. The band starts out with a sly opener from bassist Jake Vinsel entitled “Slim’s Walk”, and then segues into Jimmy McGriff’s funky title track “Dig On It” with organist Paterson showing his chops. Starting out originally as a pianist, Paterson built his reputation in the Chicago jazz clubs, as well as being the pianist for hard-bop legend tenor-man Von Freeman, who died of heart failure on August 11, 2012.
—Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition
The Skinny Dig On It CD Release Party:
Andy's Jazz Club
11 E. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60611
October 26 & 27, 2012
9:30pm, 11pm, 12:30am