Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today, let's celebrate the B3

....the Hammond B3 that is. Jimmy Smith switched to the B3 from piano in 1953 after hearing Wild Bill Davis play. Mr. Smith played entirely by ear, and took to adapting horn lines to the organ. His name soon became synonymous with the Hammond B3. Here is Jimmy Smith playing his most famous number, The Sermon on a BBC program in 1964.

Here's a very groovy piece indeed, featuring 4 B3s. It's Paul Shaffer, Joey DeFrancesco, Doug Riley, and the amazing Dr. Lonnie Smith playing The Cat, a tune by the late Jimmy Smith. Then, listen to this interview with Dr. Lonnie Smith.

The B3 is a remarkable instrument. It is what is called a "tone-wheel" organ. You can read some excellent description of how it works here.

The B3 is not just a jazz instrument though. We've all heard it in rock n roll too. Remember Al Kooper's B3 at the beginning of Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone?.

You may have figured by now that I love this instrument. This post could go on and on, but I'm going to close with soul giant Solomon Burke singing None of us are Free with the Blind Boys of Alabama.


Anonymous said...

Can't forget the smooth 50s style tones of the legendary Earl Grant on the B3. His version of Ebb Tide is truly something else.

mister anchovy said...

thanks KW!

Malcolm said...

I really enjoyed listening to that Jimmy Smith clip that you included... real smooth. One of my favorite artists (Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals) played a Hammond. Although I'm not sure if it was the B3 model.