The Old Masters

The Hammond B3 organ sound has never been digitally duplicated. Even on recordings nothing comes close to that B3 sound. Some of it must be due to the revolving speaker, the leslie speaker, that gives it that swirling sound that is exciting and etherial at the same time. To hear the old masters of the B3 live - there is no comparison. Hammond B3 organ jazz had its glory days a number of years ago, centered around the "chitlin circuit" of black nightclubs mainly on the east coast and the near midwest. Jazz purists eschewed it at the time, for what snobbish reasons I can only guess. Now they have accepted it - but it is probably too late. After all, it was probably the last jazz genre that you could actually dance to.

Most of the old masters of the instrument are gone: Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Groove Holms {long gone}, Don Patterson, Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott and too many others. The only ones left that come immediately to mind are Dr. Lonnie Smith and Joey DeFrancesco, who I think of as an old master since he was a child prodigy toward the waning years of the music. I can understand some people being turned off by an elaborate, let us say, rococo style of trilling, rapid fire, ornate notes. I love it, but I understand. In the hands of a master like Joey D, these passages are like birds singing - particularly talented songbirds like catbirds. Mixing elaborate bird song riffs with the powerful, crushing blues that can only be delivered by the Hammond B3 gives one true sonic joy. Badly played instruments are never worth listening to and sub par B3 players can sound like a night at the roller rink. But in the hands of a master, whether they be old, current, and hopefully future, the sound is an experience everyone should treasure.