Tapping into the current Hammond organ revival, Chris Hovan’s Organic Trio revisits the classic organ combo genre with a renewed sense of purpose that puts swing and soulful energy at a premium. Covering both modern repertoire and iconic standards from the jazz lexicon, the trio features Michigan natives Cliff Metcalf on organ and Lawrence Barris on guitar. This current configuration made their debut at Cleveland’s Bop Stop in July 2019.
A respected photographer, journalist, and musician, Chris Hovan has been involved with music since starting piano lessons at the tender young age of five. Adding clarinet to his studies while in middle school, Hovan ultimately devoted his full attention to drums and percussion while a freshman in high school. He attended the prestigious music conservatory at Baldwin-Wallace College where he studied classical percussion with George Kiteley. It was at this time that he began expanding his sphere of influence by studying Latin and Brazilian percussion styles and collecting instruments. Hovan also studied drum set for a year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston with Skip Hadden, John Ramsey, and Tommy Campbell. Upon his return to Cleveland, he honed his big band and chart reading skills with the legendary Harry Damas.
Over the past 25 years, Hovan has played in a variety of Northeast Ohio venues with many of the city’s finest players including Rich Holsworth, Josh Smith, Francois Roland, Larry Ross, Jackie Warren, Jeremy Poparad, and Bobby Selvaggio, Mark Russo, and The Jazz Shepherds. He has also shared the stage with such national artists as Arturo O’Farrill, Brian Lynch, Alex Harding, and James Carter. Hovan presently works as percussionist with the horn-based ensemble Funkology and plays drums in Bob Niederriter’s trio which regularly features Columbus organ greats Jon Eshelman and Tony Monaco.
Clifton (Clif) Metcalf is a junior at Hope College in Holland Michigan, where he studies with Artist-In-Residence and jazz organ monster, Tony Monaco. Clif is focusing on Jazz Organ Performance at Hope College, which is believed to be the first and only institution in the U.S. to offer such a program. In the fall of 2016, he participated in the 1st annual Jazz Organ Summit, a gathering of prominent artists and enthusiasts from around the United States that featured Jim Alfredson (Organissimo, Root Doctor, Hammond TV) and Gerard Gibbs (Organized Crime, RYZ). The event was hosted by Tony Monaco and the Hope College Jazz Faculty. Clif was honored to share the stage with Mr. Monaco, Chuck Loeb and Harvey Mason (Fourplay), as a part of the summit headline concert.
Last year, Clif was part of the 2nd Jazz Organ Summit at Hope where he again had the chance to work with Monaco and Gibbs. Clif is a member of several student ensembles, including the Hope College OGD Trio and Jazz Arts Collective, and is the organist for the college’s gospel choir under the direction of prominent jazz vocalist, Edye Evans Hyde. He is a recipient of the Swaby Scholarship, the Freshman Music Prize, Distinguished Artist Award, and the Jazz Alliance of Mid Michigan Izenson Memorial Scholarship. His Hammond Family status has allowed him to meet and make valuable connections with jazz organ greats including the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith.
You can catch Clif with his group, Dot Org Jazz Organ Combo, as well as other groups, including Paul Carrie and the Soul Sensation, the Thirsty Perch Blues Band, Hope College OGD, and Thornetta Davis. He can regularly be seen at festivals and pubs in Central, West and Northwest Michigan.
Larry Barris started playing guitar at a very young age. By the age of 13, he was already working professionally in and around Detroit with “The Black Nasty,” a well-known local R&B band of the era.
Larry quickly made a name for himself among the Chitlin’ Circuit, playing behind comedians such as Rudy Ray Moore and Redd Foxx.
It wasn’t long before Larry started working with a “who’s who” of Detroit jazz heavyweights, including Marcus Belgrave, Teddy Harris, Donald Walden, Dennis Rowland, Wendell Harrison, Bobby Wright and Rod Lumpkin. He also performed with national artists as they passed through Detroit, such as George Benson, Mary Wilson & The Supremes, Ben E. King, The 5th Dimension, George Burns, Joan Rivers, Earl Klugh, Joe Sample, Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes, Jack McDuff, Dave McMurray, Fabian, Little Anthony & The Imperials, David Ruffin, and Eddie Kendricks, among others.
In 2001, Larry released his eponymous first CD, followed in 2003 by the release of his second CD, Love On Me. Larry officially joined organissimo in December of 2012, a Lansing-based organ trio known for their original material and unique take on everything from the pop music of The Beatles to the neglected gems of classic organist Big John Patton.