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  • Finally Got to Hear a Real B3, Live

    I've been a Hammond fan, tinkerer, and really amateur player for about 10 years now, and yesterday was actually the first time I heard a B3 live and in-person. I'm on a three day business trip to Dresden, and was able to come a day early so I could attend a Barbara Dennerlein solo concert. I've been hoping for such an alignment of schedules for a long time, and it finally happened.

    First, if you've ever watched Dennerlein on YouTube, you owe it to yourself to see her in person, especially in a small (~140 seats) venue. There's nothing like watching those fingers fly over the keyboard, and feet over the pedals. Unless you're a pretty accomplished jazz organist yourself, it seems almost impossible. The whole time I was watching, I was torn between, "may as well give up now", and, "better start practicing".

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    Dennerlein's organ is a B3 in a road case, with added MIDI, which lets her play additional voices (I heard piano, vibraphone, and flute), and gives her string bass on the pedals. Unfortunately, as modern technology seems to be prone too, her MIDI setup got zapped by static after the third piece that she played, while she was giving a brief demo of some of the features of her B3. After a brief technical intermission, she got the pedals working again (there's no Hammond bass on her pedals at all), but not the manuals, so the remainder of the concert was 100% Hammond on the keys. Let me tell you, Dennerlein does not _need_ the MIDI toys. She's every bit as expressive on just a "plain" Hammond B3.

    The performance was outstanding, and she got two "standing ovations", and played two encores. (I put that in quotes because people didn't actually stand; they thumped their feet on the fllor. Perhaps and actual _standing_ ovation isn't a German thing?)

    From the technical side of things, a few things came to my attention. The first was that the key-click on the B3 makes my M100 sound like a diode-keyed transistor organ. I had _no_ idea it was so pronounced. It sounded amazing, but I can see why Laurens Hammond didn't like it if he was trying to reproduce the sound of a church organs. During some parts of some of the pieces she played, the combination of key-click, percussion, and drawbar settings sounded almost like playing a wooden xylophone with hard mallets.

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    Another thing I noticed was that I could hear her fingers striking the keys, and her feet hitting the pedals. This always bothered me about my own playing, but I figured I just wasn't playing loud enough to drown it out. She was obviously playing much louder than I do, and those added sounds just added to the character of the music.

    In several of the pieces, you could see and hear her "playing" the drawbars. She'd be playing the keys with one hand, and changing registrations at the same time with the other, sometimes holding a chord for a long time while changing the sound in real time. This lady absolutely knows how to get the most out of her instrument.

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    At the end of the concert, I purchased a CD, and got to speak with her for a few minutes. She comes across as a very down-to-earth, likeable, and somewhat shy person. I'm really glad I had the opportunity to see her in concert, even though it was after a transatlantic flight and being up for 36 hours straight. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
    Stefan Vorkoetter: http://www.stefanv.com

    1962 Hammond M-111 with Improved Vibrato, Internal Rotary Speaker, Drum Machine,
    Window Seat Tone Cabinets, Completely Rebuilt Amplifier, and Recapped Tone Generator.
    1978 PAiA 1550 Stringz'n'Thingz with many enhancements.
    2017 Raspberry Pi organ-top synthesizer.

  • #2
    Congrats!

    Thanks for the great write up! I would love to see her play some day, but every time I go to Europe it just doesn't seem to work out.

    Johnny B.

    Hammond B3 with Trek2 Reverb, Kruger String Bass, 122 Leslie, and Hammond PR-40
    Korg Kronos II with CPS SpaceStation V3

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    • #3
      Hi Stefan,

      Observation right on. We are here in Frankfort for 18 months, and my B3 is back home, so I'm going through withdrawal. Your experience would have been a real treat.

      Urban Germans, including young Germans, from what I can see, very much appreciate good jazz and blues. They seem to be keen on preserving the decades from the 40's to the 70's. There is an iconic music store here which is crammed with tons of used guitars, amps, horns, a couple of Hammonds, and accessories. Musicians from all over come by to visit this hole in the wall. I have had terrific discussions with jazz musicians there.

      I remember going to Cobo Hall in Detroit when I lived in London, Ontario, with guys from our band, and Jimmy Smith was a featured guest. He played the pedals like Barbara Dennerlein, but had no string bass sustain, obviously. It was a blur. But I never got over it.

      When we were at a medical conference in Chicago a few years ago, we saw Jimmy McGriff playing no further than 15 feet from us. His lush chords and voicings were amazing. But he was getting old, and not interested in fast or funky. Didn't matter. It was great.

      When I 'graduated' from a C3 to a B3, I took a few online interactive lessons from Tony Monaco, and it was wonderful, because he taught me how to think B3, all the right settings, etc. There is a head to head between him and Barbara Dennerlein on Youtube, and you can appreciate the vastly different approaches, both excellent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6yurhnDkbE I think that Tony Monaco is more spontaneous and creative on the spot, whereas she seems more schooled and methodical. So, I may not be in sync with a lot of the guys here on the forum, but my heart starts racing when I hear this kind of stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlp_VsxrJBs Headphones pick up his left hand bass. He leaves spaces. Launches away from blues to jazz runs. And I want to hear what he is going to do next. This is what I remember from playing in Toronto bands.

      And I would love to sit close by at a Joey DeFrancesco event. Although he launches into 32nd note jazz runs, it all makes sense, patterned after understandable scales, but beyond my capabilities.

      Good post. Now I have to find Dennerlein playing somewhere here.
      Last edited by Tonewheel; 11-27-2018, 09:32 AM.
      1955 B3, Leslie 21H and 147. Hammond A100 with weird Leslie 205. 1976 Rhodes. Wurlitzer 200A. Yamaha DX7/TX7. Korg M1. Yamaha C3 grand, 67 Tele blond neck, Les Paul Standard, PRS 24, Gibson classical electric, Breedlove acoustic electric, Strat, P Bass, Rogers drum kit, Roland TD 12 digital drums, Apollo quad, older blackfaced Fender Twin, other amps, mics and bits and pieces cluttering up the "studio."

      Comment


      • #4
        I think Barbara is the best at arranging a variety of compositions. We can discuss forever about the music/style each player has. What I am referring to is her broad scope of playing classical, blues, jazz, etc. and combining the different styles into an arrangement of her own.

        I had the opportunity to hear her when she was in Cleveland, Ohio some 10 years ago. She was here for 3 days and played a B3 one day at a Blues place in downtown Cleveland and another day at a church where she played a Schantz pipe organ. Obviously her forte is the B3, but I was amazed at what she could get out of that pipe organ--she could "make it talk". Jazz on the pipe organ. To me that is a fantastic accomplishment. I am a real amateur on the B3 and I don't know much about song creativity. But, what I do know is the two instruments are REALLY different. Not just the sound, but the attack. The B3 is instantaneous in comparison. A pipe organ has the delay of the key response, the delay of the air sounding in the pipes and then the reverberation in the building she is playing in. She has to put all this together and come up with a composition that sounds good--and she is a master at that. I understand that when she travels and plays a pipe organ, she goes a day early to get used to the instrument and then puts together a performance for the next day. These pipe organs are all so different so that is not an easy task.

        I am so glad I could hear her and meet her in person. I see on her newsletter that many times she is asked when she will come to the U.S. again. It looks doubtful, since she had so much trouble the last time with security, passports, etc. With today's environment, it is probably even worse.

        John M.
        1956 Hammond B3
        1963 Leslie 122
        Two Pr40’s
        One JR-20 (for fluid reverb signal)
        Hamptone LEQ3B
        Trek II Reverb
        Trek II String Bass

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        • #5
          You are so fortunate And Im so jealous Its one of the main reasons I went hunting for my B3 not that I will ever play it that way but I can always aspire to the attempt . Would love to be in the neighborhood when she is playing and organ . She is just amazing

          Really nice write up thanks Stefanv
          Practise the theory...realize the practical
          Hammonds L100 /A100 /B3 Leslie 147 and 122 Yamaha E352 Key board driven in OVATIONS 15" 40 watt power

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Tonewheel View Post
            And I would love to sit close by at a Joey DeFrancesco event. Although he launches into 32nd note jazz runs, it all makes sense, patterned after understandable scales, but beyond my capabilities.
            I had the opportunity to see Joey DeFrancesco play at my college during my undergrad 15 or so years ago. I think I was on the 2nd or 3rd row, it was absolutely amazing, his fingers just became a blur at times.

            I also had the opportunity to be on stage accompanying a friend of mine as he played a B3 with Leslie when I was doing my grad work. That was another amazing opportunity. There certainly isn't anything like it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Good for you!
              1955 B3, Leslie 21H and 147. Hammond A100 with weird Leslie 205. 1976 Rhodes. Wurlitzer 200A. Yamaha DX7/TX7. Korg M1. Yamaha C3 grand, 67 Tele blond neck, Les Paul Standard, PRS 24, Gibson classical electric, Breedlove acoustic electric, Strat, P Bass, Rogers drum kit, Roland TD 12 digital drums, Apollo quad, older blackfaced Fender Twin, other amps, mics and bits and pieces cluttering up the "studio."

              Comment


              • #8
                Inspiring :)

                Now that I have my RT-3 really going, I've been pouring over youtube. A client of mine included me in a premium account, so no ads :)

                Last two days I have just been going down the wikipedia page:
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._organ_players

                I just enter each into Youtube and see what happens. The premium account also includes "Playmusic", which is google's spotify. I cannot believe all the great stuff that comes up, which I never had a clue about, even though I was born in 57.

                To be young again:
                https://youtu.be/Q3qmP-WHNnQ?t=110

                Or old and great:
                https://youtu.be/psf0-aA_FSE

                Or middle aged and very particular...
                https://youtu.be/cjD9zybX5ZA

                This is one cult alive and thriving :)

                I gotta pinch myself:

                Hammond Console by unoh7, on Flickr
                1960 Blonde RT-3
                Leslies: 2-speed 22H, 760, 105 Round Sound Machine.
                Young Chang U121
                Fatar SL 880
                Nektar Panorama T4

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                • #9
                  Never heard Dan Helgersen before, loved listening to this jam session. Thank you.

                  BTW, from your various posts and piccies, it looks like you now not only have a cool Hammond, but also a great Hammond "man-cave" ...
                  Careful that you don't end up with HAS (Hammond Acquisition Syndrome), or LAS, it can happen all to easily... lol :)

                  Cheers
                  1966 C-3 / 925
                  1965 M102 / 145
                  1967 M111A / 330

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