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Thread: Top 5 Living Jazz Organist

  1. #1

    Top 5 Living Jazz Organist

    These are my choices as the top 5 living jazz organist:
    1. Dr. Lonnie Smith
    2. Rhoda Scott
    3. Chris Foreman
    4. Joey Defrancesco
    5. Billy Holloman
    The reason I chose these 5 in the order I listed them is as follows.
    !. Dr. Lonnie Smith is the most experienced and the most talented of today’s living jazz organist. He is original, that is to say he has his own style and has better chord structure than most of today’s jazz organist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcI3N...eature=related

    2. Rhoda Scott would have been my choice for number 1 but she doesn’t have the tonal quality of Smith. She seldom uses left hand bass and out paces most organists on the bass pedals. She plays in her own style and doesn’t copy no one else’s style. She Swings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIB2ywz3S9o

    3. Many of you may not have heard of Chris Foreman. He is the organist for the Chicago based Deep Blue Organ Trio. Chris is blind but plays better than most sighted organist. He like the first two has a groove all his own. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBQu77M6U_8

    4. Joey Defrancesco is the most popular jazz organist today and in most circles considered as #1; however he is the least original of my top 5. He is good at copying to all time greats of the jazz organ and this is what he is best at. He and Tony Monaco imitate Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff or Jimmy McGriff at the drop of a hat. Joey d is better at it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaZbejCykig

    5. Billy Holloman like Chris Foreman may not be well known. He is from Philly. He has his own swinging style unlike no one else I’ve heard. He uses great chords and can really pump the bass. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVMqZd-QU0E

    I would love to hear from you and see who you chose as your top 5 living jazz organist.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Orgrinder010's Avatar
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    Most of these guys seem to be a variation of the same thing. Similar registrations, method of playing, techniques... I'm not saying that is a bad thing, but that is just one style of many.
    Jazz doesn't have limitations, and neither does the Hammond. Back in the day, you had classically and theatre trained organists' mixing with the club scene. I'm talking basslines with both feet, playing the presets, octave and open harmonies, etc. It was much more than an entire album of 888000000 percussion/leslie.

    Buddy Cole for starters:
    <object width="425" height="349"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/nLn-7KGliRQ?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/nLn-7KGliRQ?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

    Denny McLain:

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    Jackie Davis:
    <object width="425" height="349"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/nkWrmkX5a_k?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/nkWrmkX5a_k?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

    Now for the "living" part of the question... Players like Mark Herman, Donnie Rankin, Cletus Goens to name a few.
    There are some very skilled organists up and coming which I've personally heard channeling some of the above stylings, and I have to say I will take these variations over the same-old-same-old.
    I'm actually good friends with Mark here, and he never ceases to amaze me with his skill at the Hammond.

    <object width="425" height="349"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/sr9qDVlZ8ro?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/sr9qDVlZ8ro?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
    Last edited by Orgrinder010; 08-07-2011 at 08:18 PM.
    ~1936 Hammond AV - Leslie 122 & PR40~~1954 Wurlitzer ElectroStatic 4602 - Leslie 125~

  3. #3

    Although these clips sound good I really don’t think they can really be classified as jazz, pop or show tunes perhaps. When I taught the jazz portion of music appreciation, I always taught that in most cases jazz has to swing. Even when jazz is played in a slow or romantic mode, it still has an element of swing. As for as the 888000000 percussion/Leslie sound, if you listen to the albums of the organist I mentioned you will fine that they don’t always use this registration. Notice Trudy Pitts as she plays take 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCCPs...eature=related using the 5/4 time that Brubeck used in his original version she use a different registration than the common above mentioned registration. And notice how it swings.

    Wild Bill Davis, the man who inspired Jimmy Smith to play organ, employed a different register http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCkboM60BAQ notice his rhythm and method.

    Jimmy Smith who most jazz organist emulates didn’t always use these settings. This is his first recording The Champ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcT2HE5agiE the rhythm is a swinging rhythm. Listen as he plays My Funny Valentine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG-nf...eature=related This is slow in tempo but still swings.

    These last two are by Hank Marr Tonk Game and Hob Nobbin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfGa1TXDonk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i40u...eature=related

    Notice the bass lines in these examples. In jazz the bass is generally broken chords played in the rhythm of the drum beat. On this last song however the bass line is an alternating 1-5 bass line but it fits well with the tempo an rhythm of the song.

    I'm not knocking the examples you gave but they are more in the line of pop are easy listening than jazz but that only my opinion.
    Last edited by Jazzer; 08-08-2011 at 05:37 AM.

  4. #4

    I also enjoyed these clips. I am interested in the overall topic, "Best Five Living Organists". I can think of a few not in your list (Barbara D, Jim Alfredson, among others) but I haven't heard all the organists out there. Japan has some stunning Hammond players, and I heard an outstanding jazz organist one night in Singapore. I have heard great jazz organ in Italy (Florence, and Milan), and right across Europe I know of very skilled players. I haven't heard live organ from South America or South Africa: one day, one day. (Brazil has very good organists I have heard on CD.)
    As for bass lines and broken chords: I guess jazz melody is just scales played in quavers. We need to look into this bass line theory a bit more.

  5. #5

    I haven't heard all of the jazz organist out there myself. I would like to hear more. I'm sure there are many great ones to be heard. I get my view about jazz bass from one of my college music teachers Orville Moffitt who stated that jazz bass was generally broken chords. But I'm open to other definitions. Jimmy McGriff once told me that it was a groove thing but I look at jazz as a groove thing. But over all I think we are on somewhat the same page.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Clarion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzer View Post

    2. Rhoda Scott would have been my choice for number 1 but she doesn’t have the tonal quality of Smith. She seldom uses left hand bass and out paces most organists on the bass pedals. She plays in her own style and doesn’t copy no one else’s style. She Swings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIB2ywz3S9o
    While Rhoda Scott is most accomplished, you haven't even mentioned Barbara Dennerlien!

    I would be most reluctant to be on a panel of adjudicators deciding the matter of which of the two who is the best jazz organist.

    Rhoda Scott and Barbara Dennerlein are both absolutely awesome jazz organists of the kind that I've never before heard in all of my 70 years!
    Last edited by Clarion; 10-12-2011 at 08:46 PM.

  7. #7

    I didn't mention Barbara Dennerlien because up to this point I didn't like her playing. After listening to her more closely I will have to say she is a skillful organist. While in my opinion her playing is not as “for lack of a better term” as full bodied as the ones on my top 5 list, she does have very good abilities, such as playing the bass pedals and agile fingering. She does have her own style which is a plus (noting that Joey D. Francesco imitates the Jimmy Smith’s and Jack McDuff’s she has this over him). On my list she would rank #7, by the way the bottom five on the top 10 would be #6 Reuben Wilson #8 Tony Monaco #9 TC Pfeiler #10 Dan Fogel. Like I said, there are many other jazz organist I have never heard and looking forward to hearing many more. If there is other you want me to hear let me know so I can hear their CD’s.

  8. #8

    I don't know about top five, but listen to Akiko Tsuruga, and James Taylor. And, hey, Barbara D can play anything.

  9. #9
    Member JamKar's Avatar
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    José Roberto Bertrami from the group Azimuth would be in my top 10.

  10. #10

    I found a group Azymuth, from Rio, and Bertrami was a classically trained pianist (synths, etc) with them for different periods ... but I didn't hear him play any organ. Please post a link to the organ stuff. Thanks.

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