Hammond Live at Bernie’s

Who says that the jazz organ is forgotten? That it exists only as an option on a modern electronic keyboard? Jon Hammond (what an appropriate name!) shows clearly that the Hammond jazz room is not only alive and well but, what is more, that it can provide something from almost every genre of modern popular music for everybody.  Opening with “Days of Wine and Roses”, Jon and Melbourne drummer Michael Jordan provide a soothing evening of music to an appreciative and relaxed audience at Bernies Music Land in Ringwood, Victoria. Jon’s cool registration, even tempo and elegant ornamentation are the best reference to his mature and musical approach to what is essentially great music for listening. Really listening. The amazing Hammond B-3 is his vehicle, and what a vehicle it is!

Standards like Satin Doll, Besame mucho and Somewhere over the Rainbow are conveyed smoothly to the listener’s ears whilst enhancing the dinner table ambience and candlelit atmosphere. The latter number is expertly handled to evoke Dorothy’s dreaminess and wonder in The Wizard of Oz. Jon draws humorously on his personal experiences with his original composition Late Rent, which he calls his theme song. The self-deprecating humour will be well understood by anyone who has had to make a living in the fickle world of music performance! On a more serious note, Jon pays homage to his countrymen killed in New York by terrorists on 11 September 2001. The movement of this composition reflects Jon’s own thought processes and typical New York life as he ponders over the loss of life. Music is both his release and his salve. The other composition by Jon is Lydia’s Tune.

Up to date with modern classics that everybody recognises, Jon plays Stevie Wonder’s You are the Sunshine of my Life in a style that makes the piece instantly recognisable. At the same time, his influence on the piece is unmistakable. He finishes with I left my Heart in San Francisco because that is where he was born! Makin’ Whoopee!, The Shadow of your Smile and Cookin’ at the Continental similarly show Jon’s individual stamp on whatever he plays.

Jon makes excellent use of the Leslie effect to add colour to the numbers that he plays: it enhances the shimmery mood that such music needs. His tempi are such that people whose toes begin to tap uncontrollably can – and do – get up and dance to his music. With extensive experience as a Hammond B-3 performer across the USA and Europe, Jon shows deep insight for the essentials of jazz – melody, rhythm, tempo, mood, style, improvisation – and he captures them all admirably. His deft runs, smooth glissando and refined ornamentation combine to create the mood that this music requires. Jon shows deep insight for the essentials of jazz/blues/pop – melody, rhythm, tempo, mood, style, improvisation – and he captures them all admirably. Drummer Michael Jordan is an excellent jazz percussionist: discreet and supportive, the essential associate artist.  In this excellent recording, Jon Hammond draws listeners into the astonishing world of Hammond stage keyboard organs. It should be part of every Hammond music collection. Nice work, Jon!

Simeon Mascarenhas

This CD was recorded by Mike Wallis and produced by Bernie Capicchiano with Jon Hammond from a live performance at Bernies Music Land (www.musicland.com.au).

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