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Love Letters

Barbara Dennerlein

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Album Review

Much has been made of the fact that German Hammond B-3 player Barbara Dennerlein doesn't sound very much like Jimmy Smith, and indeed, she doesn't, which is truly an achievement, since Smith pretty much wrote the book on how to play the B-3 in a jazz setting. With her innovative use of foot pedals and the MIDI synthesizer, Dennerlein actually has moved the B-3 legacy forward into the next generation, and Love Letters, originally released on her own independent Bebab label, is ample evidence of how striking and intriguing she can make the Hammond sound. Working as part of a duo with drummer Daniel Messina, Dennerlein runs the gamut here from playfully funky on the lead track "Funkish" to downright loopy on the experimental epic "Frogs in Space." She also shows on "Jimmy's Walk" that she certainly can sound like Smith if she chooses to, and the track serves as sort of homage to the father of modern B-3 soul-jazz. Also worth noting is the delightful and full-sounding "A Summer Day," which shows the range of Dennerlein's compositional skills. Messina's drumming is tight throughout, and the pair work together so well that one quickly forgets that there aren't more musicians on these tracks, thanks in no small part to Dennerlein's bass pedal work, which is phenomenal.

Biography

Born: 25 September 1964 in Munich, Germany

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Barbara Dennerlein differs from most organists by not sounding all that much like Jimmy Smith. She utilizes MIDI with her organ in order to get a different sound and her baselines (which she operates through her foot pedals) really do sound like a bass. Dennerlein began playing organ at 11 and four years later was already gigging in local clubs. She recorded on her own Bebap label and since 1988...
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Love Letters, Barbara Dennerlein
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