Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Years of hanging out with one of the greatest musicians to ever lay fingers on the keys and feet on the pedals of a Hammond organ has made me a little bit of a snob. There are lots of players out there who have fine chops but nothing to say; they mistake quantity (that is, a constant shower of notes) for quality. I can take a couple of minutes of them and then tune out.

Today, I found someone who can capital-P Play the ol' B3. I listened, heard overtones of my friend, of Fats Waller and a couple of other past greats...but most of all, I heard someone who has a unique style that just flat swings in a traditional yet trail-blazing way.

Anyone who loves jazz needs to listen to Barbara Dennerlein. She's absolutely fearless, giving the Hammond a workout as no one else can; on a pipe organ, she's dynamite. Though still young, she's already at the top of her game, confident and assertive.

Having some technical knowledge of this particular instrument, I'm especially impressed with her solo work. She can carry a tune without sidemen, and there's nothing lacking. She's equally adept at blending seamlessly with drummers, reed players and other instrumentalists. Her "rides" are sure and clean, and her original tunes are as listenable as any standards.

Few women seem to gravitate to performing jazz, and I would bet the total number of German women who do is one.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Snobbishly, I will say I've heard only a handful of Europeans who can really get deeply into playing jazz. They can appreciate it just fine, but as listeners, not performers. This seems particularly true of the French, who are so deeply into analyzing the music that they don't feel it.

I couldn't help but notice that Ms Dennerlein is quite easy on the eyes, as well.

After listening to the samples on her site, I felt like taking a chainsaw to my fingers. I never have played, and never will play, with a fraction of the skill, enthusiasm and feeling she puts into her music.

But I knew I'd need my fingers to order a bunch of her recordings, so they're still firmly attached to my hands.

This is marvelous stuff.

Give her a listen.


John said...

That's a cool chick, and she's well inside the age envelope!!
Or the safe one anyway.
She's apparently been on a roll for a long time. Wonder if she'll hit the US anytine soon. Maybe better audience over there these days, hard to say.

I'd like to see her play so I can tell better what's her and what is the other instruments. She gets it to sound different that what I'd expect. Smooth as silk too. And the woman can write music, that's for damn sure.

lowandslow said...

Now I understand why I have NO talent whatsoever. God took my allocation and gave this lady a double helping. I can't imagine how anyone can be so...I'm just speechless. Wow!

lovezao said...

couldn't get it on quicktime I will check it out at Borders...thanks, love jaz- certain types.

MrScribbler said...

"John" -- one of the albums she's done is solo...she does it all! And you can check her out at YouTube, too...there are several videos of her.

l&s -- she got my portion of talent, too. And probably several dozen other people's....

lovezao -- there's a second button by each of the samples that works with several players...you can download one free if you don't have any. Or put her name into YouTube and listen/watch there.

Miss Contrary said...

I've never heard of her, but I've been looking for new music to listen to. Maybe I'll give her a try.

Too many "musicians" mistake technical knowledge for musical ability, which is one of my greatest pet peeves. A professional singer at my church performed an OPERA rendition of Aretha Franklin's gritty "Respect" and she couldn't have slayed the song any more if she had tried.

Not very many people actually have an ear for music, no matter how well they read music and imitate others.

MrScribbler said...

I won't say she'll be to everyone's taste, miss contrary, but I know she rocks me! And, despite what some might think, I'm fussy about my enthusiasms....

DAL said...

While not necessarily a fan of jazz, I am a fan of the B3 and organs of its ilk. I have always loved the two 70s songs 'Green Eyed Lady' by Sugarloaf, and the organ-laden, avant garde-ish 'Hold Your Head Up' by Argent. The former has a terrific solo, the latter is carried by the organ as one of the main instuments.

Barbara is one heck of a player. She sure gets those feets moving on the pedals, don't she?

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