I have written my first magazine article for DownBeat, entitled "Examining Jimmy's Licks in '56". This article discusses Jimmy Smith's improvisational vocabulary in 1956, the year he set the jazz world on fire with a new sound on the Hammond B3 organ, and is based upon a snippet of my PhD research.
You can read the article in the January 2019 issue of DownBeat
Starting March 2019, I will be leading a new jazz ensemble in the undergraduate jazz program at the Con, centred around the Hammond Organ. It's an honour to be back at my alma mater as a lecturer!
Staring February 2019, I will teaching a brand-new performance course at Sydney Conservatorium of Music called "Soul Ensemble".
These classes are designed to introduce the student to a broad range of classic Soul and Rhythm ‘n’ Blues music styles. Key features of this broad genre are revealed through the performance of historically important repertoire from the 1950s/60s/70s through to the present era. Vocalists gain experience singing both lead and harmony parts, while rhythm section players learn to create authentic grooves that will move an audience. Horn players learn to work as a section, punctuating the music and provide contrast with the short solo improvisations endemic to the style. Typically there will be up to 3 vocalists (doing both solo and BV’s), a rhythm section of drums, electric bass, keyboards, a horn section (trumpet, alto, tenor) and 2 guitarists.
More Information can be found here
In 2018 I was awarded my Phd in Jazz Organ Improvisation from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at The University of Sydney. My thesis is entitled "The Afrological Soul of Jazz Organ". If you'd like to read it, it is available to other researchers via the usual university online databases. If you don't have access to these databases, please get in touch with me. The ePUB version of this thesis is the preferred format for viewing, as it contains many audio/visual elements that are a significant part of your data output and research outcomes. The PDF is provided as an alternate source only where audio/visual playback is not possible.
This research offers a practitioner’s perspective of jazz performance on the Hammond organ in the areas of history, cultural location, improvisational vocabularies & performance paradigms. George E. Lewis’ Afrological/Eurological ideology provides a framework for understanding the function of the organ in African-American society and its relevance to the chitlin’ circuit. Afrological values are defined, supported by interviews with Lou Donaldson, Ben Dixon, Larry Goldings, Caesar Frazier, Nate Lucas, Radam Schwartz, Don Williams, Michael Cuscuna, Bruce Forman and Bill Heid. Beginning with the progenitors of jazz organ, analysis of detailed original transcriptions document early performance styles on the Hammond organ, revealing an inherent link to big-band arrangements and sonorities. These provide stark contrast to the paradigm shift caused by Jimmy Smith’s application of hard bop and rhythm ’n’ blues styles to the organ in the mid-1950s, which creates a new musical movement within African-American culture. As the central character in this research, Smith’s improvisational vocabulary is codified, exposing unique rhythmic features such as Smithtuplets, melodic features including succedent blues grace notes, and sonic considerations inherent in the Hammond organ such as harmonic foldback. Further supported by interviews with organists Dr. Lonnie Smith, Wil Blades, Mike Flanigin and Jay Denson, Smith’s new performance paradigm is described in terms of groove and creative co-ordination, dispelling some myths regarding the use of bass pedals. Finally, using Afrological values as a guiding principle, Smith’s vocabulary and performance paradigm is converted into a personal pedagogy. This pedagogy is documented using performance videos and transcribed examples, and is further supported by recordings of new original compositions and jazz standards in organ/guitar/drums format.
I've started sharing some of my research into historically important jazz organ recordings on a new Youtube channel called Jazz Organ Bites. These bite-sized videos demonstrate particular tunes or techniques - you can check these out at Youtube and don't forget to subscribe.
We've been working away at some new original tunes of mine, recording them in my home studio on my 1961 Hammond A100.
This one is called "All Greyed Out"
We've just completed a 6-week run as part of the Rare Groove Mondays at Foundry 616 in Ultimo. This expanded version of the trio featured a different special guest saxophonist each week. Videos of select performances from this series are on the Video page. The guests were:
The trio made its first appearance in Melbourne at the very funky Paris Cat jazz club on March 30th, 2016, backing our good friend Dan Barnett on vocals and trombone.
On March 31st, 2016, the trio performed at Bar 303 in Northcote, Melbourne for it's monthly "Kickin' The B3" night. It was great to perform on a real Hammond for a change! There's a video of this gig on the Video page.
On April 20th, 2016 I recorded with fabulous guitarist Sorcha Albuquerque at ABC studios in Ultimo, with Evan Mannell on drums. The session will be broadcast on ABC radio later this year - stay tuned!
The trio performs on March 25th with a very special guest Spike Mason on sax.
Libor Smoldas (Czech) was our special guest recently at Playbar and Cronulla’s Brass Monkey.
I'm proud to announce I've been given an Artist deal from KeyB Organ, Italy. This B3 clone is as close as it gets to the real vintage Hammond.
This B3 clone is as close as it gets to the real vintage Hammond in both tone and interface. It’s a pure joy to play!