Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hammond Organ thang




Just as you may have understood from the title this month we will talk about the hero of all grooves, the one and only Hammond organ. Born out of the fervid mind of Laurens Hammond, who amongst other things was a watch maker, this organ was planned by applying fine mechanics to a sound generator of sinusoid waves… the rest is history!! The first Hammond, the mythical B3 with a generator with tones wheels, was born in 1935 and was produced up until 1973! Nowadays, as it is natural that it should, the Hammond also has become digital, but any respectful organist always looks for the vintage type from which there comes a sound that is rougher and warmer, the original models like the ‘B3’, ‘C3’, ‘A100’, ‘L100’, etc. with an internal amplifier or even with the mythical external ‘Lesley’, famous for the horn that turns really fast (run by the pedal) which spreads the sound 360° with that effect that we all know! Us lovers of the Soul Beat know that in Jazz, Soul, Funk, Bossa, etc.. the Hammond finds a lot of space, but also in Rock, Progressive and Electronic there has been much use. The heroes of the Hammond as far as the Soul Beat goes are many but, in my modest opinion, one amongst them all results in being the greatest: we are talking about Jimmy Smith. With him we have discovered what playing the Hammond with the ‘right attitude’ really means, whether we are talking about Blues, or Jazz or R’n’B. He has made some unforgettable pieces of vinyl such as “Respect”, “I Got My Mojo Working”, “Unfinished Business”, “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf?”, “The Cat” and they have all been objects of inspiration for contemporary organists like The James Taylor Quartet, Mother Earth, Corduroy, Big Boss Men and many others. The English Hammond player Brian Auger even surprised Smith with his way of playing, enough to get him an historical exclamation from Jimmy himself on one of his albums: ‘Brian, man you’re crazy!’. Auger, with his unmistakable style, united R'n'B with Jazz and 60’s Pop Rock and with the Trinity and Julie Driscol characterised an era! His are pieces such as “Tiger”, “Black Cat”, “Indian Rope Man”, etc.., also, together with the Oblivion Express, he planted the first roots of the so called ‘Fusion’. Another great hero of the Hammond is jack McDuff who, thanks to many label changes (Cadet, Blue Note, Atlantic… just to name the bigger ones) had the opportunity of experimenting with different types of ‘McOrgan Grooves’ depending on that which the Jazz market was asking for. As I wrote above the most important labels where you will find the greatest organists are Blue Note, Verve, Groove Merchant, Atlantic, Cadet, King, Polydor and many others. Many organists have also collaborated with just as many Jazz musicians thus giving a more groovy imprint on their projects (practically 80% of the Blue Note productions between ’67 and ’70). Now I will give you some names and guide you towards, as always, the acquisition or selection of important indelible tracks from the musical history of ‘The Organized Soul Beat’, starting with the fact that the right period is always that, 1967 to 1973: Jimmie Smith, Lonnie Smith, Johnny Hammond Smith, Reuben Wilson, Jack McDuff, Brian Auger, Lalo Schifrin, Alan Hawkshaw, Jimmy McGriff, JTQ, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Marcos Valle, Ed Lincoln, Charles Earland, Henry Cane, Rob Franken Organization, Ennio Morricone (in some of his more groovy soundtracks) and many others. Always remember that, if you have any questions for me, all you have to do is send me a mail… I, time permitting, will try to answer you and also do my best to advise you. Now all that is left is for me to wish you a good Summer and to remind you to stay tuned in to The Soul Beat! Peace all over the land!

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