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Organ trio

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Organ trio

Jazz organist Jimmy Smith at a show in Italy in 1994; the sax and drumkit of the other trio members can be seen in this picture.

An organ trio, in a [2]

In organ trios, the Hammond organist plays several roles, including playing the basslines (either on the Medeski, Martin and Wood and Soulive became involved in the burgeoning jamband scene.


  • History 1
    • Pre-1950s 1.1
    • 1950s–1960s 1.2
    • 1970s–1980s 1.3
    • 1990s 1.4
      • Traditional Groups 1.4.1
      • Other Variations 1.4.2
    • 2000s and Beyond 1.5
      • Jazz Groups 1.5.1
      • Other Variations 1.5.2
  • Musical style, tradition and variants 2
    • As a musical style or tradition 2.1
    • Variant forms 2.2
  • Other meanings 3
    • Baroque-era works for solo organ 3.1
  • See also 4
    • Hammond organists who perform in trios 4.1
    • Jazz guitarists who perform in organ trios 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6



While jazz musicians such as Leslie speaker-equipped amplified cabinet adding a room-filling, “king-sized sound.” [3][3]


In the 1950s and 1960s, the organ trio became a common musical ensemble in bars and taverns in the US, especially in downtown areas of major cities. Organ trios used the powerful amplified sound of the Hammond organ, and its ability to fill multiple musical roles (basslines, chords, and lead lines), to fill a bar or club with a volume of sound that would have previously required a much larger ensemble. While bar owners liked this money-saving aspect of the organ trio, the format also had a number of musical advantages. The organ trio was a more intimate, smaller ensemble, which facilitated communication between musicians, and allowed more freedom for spontaneous changes of mood or tempo, and for "stretching out" on extended solos.

According to Tom Vicker, the "...most famous of the early [organ trio] grinders was Philadelphia's [4]

During the 1960s, jazz guitarists such as Big John Patton, Jack McDuff, and Earl Neal Creque and with drummer Idris Muhammad.

In the late 1960s, as jazz musicians began to explore the new genre of [2] Young pioneered a new approach to playing the Hammond B3. In contrast to Jimmy Smith's blues-influenced soul-jazz style, in which songs were structured over chord progressions, Young favored a modal approach to playing, in which songs were based on musical modes rather than chord progressions.


Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto 1978

In the 1970s, the 1960s-style organ trios based around a Hammond organ were eclipsed by the new trend of jazz-rock Greg Lake on either the guitar or bass guitar, and Carl Palmer on drums; Emerson was one of the earliest in moving into synthetic sound. Veteran Hammond players such as Emerson and Charles Earland began using synthesizers to "update" their sound to the pop-disco styles of the late 1970s.

There were a small number of well-known organ trios during the 1970s. John McLaughlin on guitar and Larry Young on organ. Lifetime was a pioneering band of the fusion movement, combining rock, R&B, and jazz.


Traditional Groups

Jazz organist Joey Defrancesco, pictured here in 2002, has recorded albums that recapture the "old school" organ trio sound of the 1960s.

In the 1990s and 2000s, there was a revival of organ trios in the Jazz, Blues, Soul and R&B genres. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, before his death in 2005, Jack McDuff.

The Chris Foreman and guitarist Bobby Broom.

The Danish organ trio, Ibrahim Electric, also explored different kinds of developments from jazz, such as afro-beat, and Boogaloo with a strong blues traditional influence, but with the main focus on the Hammond B-3 played by Jeppe Tuxen.

In 2007 Steve Howe created the Steve Howe Trio, inspired mainly by Kenny Burrell.

Other Variations

Organ trios such as Jonny Henderson).

The upright bass player as the third member.

An unusual example of an organ trio-influenced performer is Gerard Gibbs on Hammond B-3 and Leonard King on drums. These recordings include "Out of Nowhere" and "Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge," both of 2004, and Leonard King's "Extending the language" in 2005.

2000s and Beyond

Jazz Groups

After the Ben Paterson on the Hammond B-3 and alternating drummers Makaya McCraven and Kobie Watkins. The group toured with Steely Dan on their Jamalot Ever After North American tour, and began working in the Chicago area and work on their first album.[6]

Other Variations

The English progressive rock band

Musical style, tradition and variants

As a musical style or tradition

While the term "organ trio" is typically a reference to a type of small ensemble, the term "organ trio" is also used to refer to the musical styles, genres, and tradition of the 1950s/1960s era of organ trio playing. Although the components of the "organ trio tradition" are a subject of debate, the 1950s/1960s organ trio style tends to have more blues influences than other small-group jazz from this era, and it often blurs the lines between blues, R&B, and jazz. As well, organ trios tend to be focused on, or built around the sound of the organ.

The organ trio style has also been associated with soul jazz, a development of hard bop which incorporated strong influences from blues, gospel and rhythm and blues. However, unlike hard bop, soul jazz generally emphasized repetitive grooves and melodic hooks, and its improvisations were often less complex than in other jazz styles.

Music critics discussing 1990s and 2000s-era organ trios often refer to how a modern-day group is positioned vis-à-vis the "organ trio tradition" of the 1950s and 1960s. For example, John Koenig's review of guitarist Rick Zunigar's organ trio recordings notes that Zunigar's "...conception of the organ trio gives us a present-day look at the genre, filtered through all of the tradition of the past, but also infused with other influences and trends that have their roots in the major jazz movements of the last 30 years." [7]

Variant forms

More rarely, an organ trio might consist of a Hammond organist and two jazz guitarists, or a Hammond organist, a [8] Describing these four-musician ensembles as a "trio plus one", instead of as a quartet, may appear to be a misnomer.

However, this approach can be justified because there are different musical styles and traditions associated with different types of jazz ensembles. As such, if a concert is billed as a jazz quartet (e.g. a saxophone and a rhythm section), the audience has expectations about the repertoire and musical styles than if a concert is billed as an organ trio with a saxophone. There are specific musical styles, genres, and traditions that are associated with the 1950s/1960s era of organ trio playing (see section above entitled Organ trio as a musical style or tradition for more details).

Other meanings

Baroque-era works for solo organ

See also

  • Jazz
  • Hammond organ
  • Clonewheel organ

Hammond organists who perform in trios

Jazz guitarists who perform in organ trios


  1. ^ John F. Szwed. Jazz 101:A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz. Hyperion. 2000. pages = pp. 198-199. ISBN 0-7868-8496-7
  2. ^ a b c d John Koenig. Available at:|lang_fr
  3. ^ a b c Tom Vickers. Organ Grinder Swing. Available at:|lang_fr
  4. ^ Available at:|lang_fr
  6. ^ Bobby Broom Organi-Sation to Open for Steely Dan Jamalot Ever After Tour 2014 -
  7. ^ Available at:|lang_fr
  8. ^ Dan McClenaghan. David Sills, Eastern View.|lang_fr Accessed 30 May 2008.
  9. ^ Ruth Elaine Dykstra. Possible Orchestral Tendencies in Registering Johann Sebastian Bach’s Organ Music: An Historical Perspective. Accessed 30 May 2008.


External links

  • Geoff Alexander's history of the Jazz Organ
  • 7 Come 11, The Hammond Organ Trio
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