On the 10th of February, 2017, a “jazz organ trio” consisting of musicians Jeff Jenkins on electric organ, Todd Reid on drum set and Sean Mc Gowan on electric guitar performed for general recital students in attendance at the University of Colorado in Denver, Colorado. The group played songs that sounded like the music of organ jazz groups in the 1950’s and 60’s. The group opened by playing a couple smooth and sophisticated jazz style sets: with Latin style drums, signature “Hammond B3 organ’ sound, and light yet technical guitar style all combining to create a platform for seemingly ever-shifting improvisation and accompaniment. The group traded solos and the players all presented a highly cultivated precision with each upbeat (as well as each down beat, although this Latin rhythm style definitely accentuated the upbeats!)
Organist Jenkins talked about the old “Hammond B3” organs, that were created in the 1950’s and weighed around 500 pounds. The organ setup that he used is actually a digital emulation of the organ. This may be by use of a digital audio workstation and midi technology, or by use of new organ emulation technology. The original organs worked by using big “tone wheels” that you would have to keep oiled up every few months. The organs used drop bars that would trigger the sound of each note. The style and percussive nature of these drop bars were adjustable and could be used to sculpt the sound in certain ways. The original sound of these organs was said to be pioneered by Jimmy Smith, who embraced the percussive qualities of organs. This led to a more modern “Be-pop” sound that utilized an added bass element to the piano/organist’s sound.
Jenkins also talked about his pedals which consisted of an expression pedal as well as a traditional organ bass pedal. He could control the volume with the expression pedal and play bass notes with the organ pedals. Jenkins explained how one could fuse these two pedals to physically emulate the sound of a plucked bass with one’s feet at the same time as playing organ with one’s hands. This technique was amazing and showed a certain virtuosity to Jenkin’s playing style. Drummer Todd Reid also commented on the importance of the correct level of attack for each bass drum note when accenting these plucked bass emulations. Jenkins also discussed the importance of the pairing of the125 pound “Lesley” speaker model with the Hammond B3 sound. This is important to achieving that deep bass sound. The organ trio was a revolutionary pairing of instruments at the time, and still brings joy to many players and jazz lovers alike. This trio was no different and the musicians brought a high level of technicality to their performance as well as professional etiquette while doing so.