New Orleans-based keyboardist Charlie Dennard released a new album, 5 O'Clock Charlie, in July. The record showcases seven original Dennard compositions and three covers. Recorded as a jazz organ trio, the tracks do a great job highlighting the strengths of each player while mixing in touches of funk and blues. Astute fans of New Orleans music may recognize the album title from Dennard's former longtime gig at the Funky Butt in the 1990s with his band, then called 5 O'Clock Charlie.
Dennard's Hammond B3 organ leads the way on this release as he adeptly melts the right feels and tones out of the keys. The most intriguing tracks on the record are "Hunch," with its alluring buildup, "Carrot Cake," and "Blues By Five." In addition to the great keys sounds throughout the album, "Back in the Day," in particular, showcases some nice guitar playing and the percussion shines on "Let's Go."
Dennard has lived in New Orleans for nearly two decades, and received his Master's degree in music from the University of New Orleans under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis. He's traveled the world as music director for Cirque du Soleil but landed back in the Crescent City. Dennard considers his newest album to be a return to his roots after spending significant time in Europe and South America with the circus. Dennard has shared the stage with many of the biggest players in New Orleans music today, including Jason and Delfeayo Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Kermit Ruffins, Johnny Vidacovich, George Porter, Stanton Moore, and many more.