What an unusual gift. A resurrection at Christmas! Barbara Dennerlein plays Christmas Songs on the Hammond organ.
Christmas Jazz at its best! Jazz, pop, funk, soul, fusion and a sound that gets under your skin. A Christmas album full of bubbling sensuality.
That was Barbara Dennerleinʼs Christmas album for 2015. The Munich-born musician is one of the top stars of the international jazz scene. Time and again she has been voted Instrumentalist of the Year by the renowned Down Beat Magazine. She has been presented with no end of jazz awards and is a multiple recipient of the German Record Criticsʼ Prize. She has been a member of the revered Hammond Hall of Fame since 2013.
Now Barbara Dennerlein has brought the Hammond B3 back to the stage with her Christmas Songs: ten fingers, two feet, one instrument.
The electro-mechanical, massive musical instrument is a heavy piece of kit, weighing in at nearly 200 Kilo. Alongside the keyboard there are 30 different drawbars, switches, push buttons and controls for adjusting the sound. The organist plays the bass lines on the foot pedals and controls the dynamics of the music with the help of a volume control. A Hammond Organ can produce some 250 million aural sound combinations. Plus there are analogue effects like chorus, vibrato and spring reverb and percussion registers. Invented in 1934 and last built in 1973, the Hammond B3 can produce a far wider range of sound than any computer or synthesizer can produce.
And that is audible: together with an all-star band, Barbara Dennerlein and the Italian producer Nicola Conte have recorded an album which creates the perfect symbiosis of vintage and contemporary sounds. With ease and a light-hearted approach, and at the same time with respect for the original music, the musicians together succeed in finding new angles on these traditional songs. There are classics on this album like O Tannenbaum, Sleigh Ride (given a Marvin Gaye feeling) and We Three Kings, alongside the Miles Davis compositions such as Blue X-Mas and ballads like Christmas Song.
The musicians are: Magnus Lindgren, top reed-player from Sweden, who has been playing for many years with people like Till Brönner, and who wrote some arrangements for the album. Then the British jazz singer Zara McFarlane: musical adopted daughter of Acid Jazz godfather Gilles Peterson. And Finnish Abdissa Assefa is one of Europeʼs leading percussionists. Plus Swedish drummer Robert Ikiz, who has been drumming for 25 years for Nils Landgrenʼs Funk Unit and others.
The recordings were made at the end of July 2015 in Bari, in 32°C heat. Perhaps thatʼs the reason why this yearʼs Christmas songs sound so summery and fresh. And whatʼs more: why it sudenly sounds like fun to listen to Christmas songs in summer.