TYLER HORNBY B3 TRIO, Centre 64, Saturday September 26, 2015, 8pm. This is the second concert in the fall Jazz and Blues Festival series.
The Tyler Hornby B3 Trio is basically a Jazz organ trio with Tyler Hornby on drums, Steve Fletcher on B3 organ keyboards and Aaron Young on electric guitar. They play Bluesy, Funky, rock solid music in the style of the classic Hammond B3 Trios of the 50s and 60s (a la Jimmy Smith).
To play an organ as a professional musician is a tough gig. Maybe not as much now as in days gone by. But in Bach’s day the musician had to have access to a pipe organ and that usually meant a trip to church to play a huge pipe organ in a monumental church or cathedral. Similarly, in the early days of Jazz, pipe organs were only found in churches and big theaters. Once again “Mohammad had to go to the mountain” just to play. For a jazz musician there was the added obstacle of the mechanics of the keyboard. There is a significant delay from the time the organ key is depressed until the sound is produced by the pipes. “On a normal Pipe Organ the lag from striking the key to hearing the sound is about half a beat behind and this plays hell with a musician’s mind” – Clare Fischer. The great Jazz pianist Fats Waller was probably the first, and possibly the only successful jazz musician to manage to make the pipe organ “swing”. Although, in the late 80’s, Dick Hyman recorded some Fats Waller pieces on the Emery Theatre Wurlitzer in Cincinnati that sound pretty good. By and large Jazz musicians left the pipe organ alone. That started to change in the late 1930’s when the Hammond B3 Company started manufacturing “portable” Electric organs. Portability is a relative term – the instruments still weighed 400lbs with an additional 100lb for the Leslie speaker. Jazz musicians did start to take notice. Earliest jazz performers included Wild Bill Davis, Sir Charles Thompson, Milt Buckner, and even Count Basie at one point. It was in the late 1950s when Jimmy Smith exploded onto the jazz scene with an engagement at Small’s Paradise in Harlem. This, and the classic Blue Note records that followed, initiated a tectonic shift in the way jazz organ was played. His playing ushered in an era of the classic “Hammond B-3 Trio” of organ, guitar and drums. He used his right hand to play single note lines on the top keyboard console, his left hand to play chords on the second keyboard and his feet to play bass lines on the foot pedals. The whole concept sounds, at the very least, to be energetic, athletic and musically very challenging . On top of that he manipulated the draw bars to emulate the organ stops of the conventional organ. He literally set the musical standard for organ trios. Over the years the instrument has under gone changes. The original company folding at one stage before it was resurrected by a new company to produce more contemporary versions of the classic Hammond-B3. Modern electronics and programmable keyboards have reconfigured the organ and eliminated the weight problem. The weight of the huge Leslie Speaker remains but it does work well with the light weight electronic keyboards. Still there are musicians like Larry Goldings, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Joey Defrancesco who still chose to haul the cumbersome Hammond B-3 from gig to gig. In the Tyler Hornby Trio Steve Fletcher gets the job done with two electronic Keyboards, pedals and a Leslie Speaker.
This concert was a good bookend to the Gabriel Palatchi Band concert in this same venue a couple of weeks ago. Gabriel’s band was a stripped down trio of drums, keyboards and bass (no guitar) and performed music out of a funky Latin sensibility. The Tyler Hornby Trio is more into the classic Hammond B3 groove. Of course the presence of such an outstanding guitarist as Aaron Young cements the basic B3 sound. The band kicked off the evening with Locus, an original tune by Tyler and followed that with a Sam Rivers ballad called Beatrice. The first set included Larry Goldings Crawdaddy, To See Your Eyes Again (another Tyler original – who said drummers can’t write ballads?) and Aaron Young’s Chisel. By this time one would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to be impressed by Aaron’s superb fleet of fingers and funky guitar playing. We rarely get to see and hear guitar player of this caliber. The band kicked off the second set with Miles Davis’ classic Nardis followed by Aaron’s Rabbit Hole and Tyler’s Tessla’s Trance. This tune was a slow burner that built up a head of steam. Two more tunes, Alone Together and Tyler’s Big Mountain Bounce followed before the final blow out encore on the classic Charlie Parker’s Billie’s Bounce. So that was it – a nice mixture of original and classic tunes to resurrect one’s taste for the classic Hammond B3 trio sound. Needless to say I spent the following week digging though my collection of Jimmy Smith and Larry Young’s Hammond B3 recordings just to perpetuate Saturday night’s groove. Here are some images from the evening.
I am always a little surprised by Kimberley audiences. The Centre 64 Concert series offers up some pretty hard core music that normally, given the demographics of the area, might not be the music of choice for Kimberley. However, as I said, surprise, surprise, Kimberley audiences turn out in full force. Once again this concert was sold out. And, of course, thanks must go to the organizing committee and the volunteers that make it possible.
And here is a bonus. I tried to find Aaron Young’s version of the Charlie Parker classic Billie’s Bounce but this is the best I could find. It is a version by the Swedish guitarist Andreas Oberg. This may introduce a new guitarist and give you some of the flavor of the Tyler Hornby Trio’s encore for the evening.