The Hammond B3 organ is an iconic instrument in the history of jazz. Its’ distinctive sound has created a legion of fans throughout the world. The organ sound can be heard in rock, soul, blues, R&B, and most prominently in the world of gospel. In the jazz genre, the Hammond B3 organ developed a unique personality over the past few decades. Primarily, being described as – groovy.
Many of the early Hammond B3 organ players had their roots in gospel and in churches. Leading congregational choirs and becoming a footprint of many of the gospel singing churches throughout the country. In the 1940’s, the Hammond B3 organ slowly found its way into big band environments from the likes of Wild Bill Davis and Don Patterson.
In the 1950’s, the Hammond B3 organ took on a new direction and a new sound in the world of jazz. A soulful swing was introduced with a steady groove pattern that was instantly recognizable. Players like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack McDuff, and Shirley Scott. In the early 1960’s you also saw a funkier groove sound evolve. A precursor to what was going to come in the 70’s. By probably the best appropriate name of all, Richard “Groove” Holmes. At this time, began to introduce a new sound. Here is “Groove” Holmes’ Groove’s Groove to check out:
By the early 60’s, the revolutionary new sound appeared with such legendary jazz artists as Wes Montgomery, Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Burrell, and more. By the mid-1960’s, the Hammond B3 organ appeared to have peaked in jazz. However, finding its way into rock and pop with the likes of The Doors, Booker T and the MG’s, and Sly and the Family Stone. And, in R&B with Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye and others. Then in the 1970’s, something magical happened.
Around this time, Charles Earland appeared on the scene. Earland was noted for not only his unique means of crescendo building but also for rearranging pop standards and giving them a groove arrangement. Complete with chorus shouting horns that were groovy! Here is one such example, Earland's rendition of the hit single Aquarius at that time:
Earland became known as the father of the modern organ and was given the nickname as the “Mighty Burner” for his fiery soulful style of playing. Since Earland, there has been a sporadic drip of jazz artists who made the Hammond B3 organ their primary jazz instrument. One of the most notable has been Joey DeFrancesco. Bringing back a renewed form of popularity for the Hammond B3 organ.
In New York City, Mike LeDonne has been making the real Hammond B3 organ music a prominent part of the jazz scene and has a strong following. We are also seeing other types of organ-based trios and quartets come and go. One being the Chicago-based Deep Blue Organ Trio. They had a huge following for several years before disbanding in 2013. Guitarist Dave Stryker has also been leading the way with organ-based trios.
Buffalo’s own native son, drummer Carmen Intorre, has been part of the Pat Martino Trio, which features Pat Bianchi on the electronic organ. Recently at the JazzBuffalo and 189 Sunday Jazz Series, we saw The Devin Kelly Organ Trio with Dino Losito on the electronic organ. Others playing more of the electronic style of organ playing in the area include Ron Davis, The Frontstreet Men, and Gerry Youngman. Most recently, jazz guitarist Walt Sopicki and his Trio, which included Ron Peterson on the real Hammond B3 and Abdul-Rahman Qadir, opened for Steely Dan in Rochester.
On Saturday, October 29th at 8 pm, JazzBuffalo, in association with Pausa Art House, presents a concept performance entitled In the Groove! In this performance, we will be celebrating and highlighting the distinctive groove style of Hammond B3 organ jazz. Featured will be Buffalo’s own mighty burner, Ron Peterson. Peterson has been part of the music community for a few decades and is one of the most renowned REAL Hammond B3 organ players in all of WNY and New York State.
Ron Peterson got his start in Upstate New York with the big band of Butch Robertshaw. Enamored with the new sound introduced by Richard “Groove” Holmes, Ron went on to perform with the internationally known baritone saxophonist, the late Nick Brignola. After moving to Buffalo, his grooving style caught the ears of some of the area's most notable musicians such as the late Marvin Patterson, saxophonist Jeff Hackworth, and guitarist Greg Millar.
We will be quite fortunate to have Greg Millar on guitar for this event. Millar has the unique history of having performed and toured with the “Mighty Burner” himself, Charles Earland. Appearing on Earland's groundbreaking album, Intensity, in 1972. Millar also owns a unique spot in Buffalo Jazz history having appeared on the original introductory album of Spyro Gyra. Joining Peterson and Millar will be Kelly Bucheger (of What Would Mingus Do? fame) on sax, Tim Clarke on trumpet, Abdul-Rahman Qadir on drums, and Tony Zambito on percussion.
This will be a concept performance and presentation of the REAL Hammond B3 Organ sound, replete with the original guitar sound associated with Charles Earland, horn shouts and solos, and the groove percussion sound that will keep your toes tapping. JazzBuffalo is extremely excited to present and feature Ron Peterson, who gives us a rare opportunity, in this day of mostly electronic organs and keyboards, to see and hear the REAL Hammond B3 organ – and in the format of a full ensemble!
On Saturday, October 29th at 8 pm at Pausa Art House, you will not want to miss out on this unique ensemble created to deliver the true and authentic Hammond B3 Organ jazz sound that is an integral part of jazz history!
Keep Jazz Alive In WNY!