She’s known around the world as the First Lady of the Organ. It’s been a love affair since she was 11. That’s when her father, also an organ lover, bought home an organ for her birthday. She was performing by the time she was 13 – and the organ was in such constant use that Dad hardly ever got a chance to play.
Today, Barbara Dennerlein, who was born in Munich in 1964, is an internationally recognized hard bop, post-bop and jazz organist, playing primarily on the Hammond B3. Along the way, she has added a bass pedalboard to the instrument, giving the modified machine a sound all its own. Barbara is known for her exceptionally fast left foot; her other apt nickname is “the organ tornado from Munich.”
Dennerlein’s musical innovation and improvisation have been praised worldwide. She won Germany’s Critics Award for her CD “Take Off,” and also had the best selling jazz album one year. On New Year’s eve 2000, she played 24 hours straight on German television to help usher in the new year. Her talents have literally taken her around the world as she has transformed the organ into an electric synthesizer, producing beautiful sounds that had never been heard before.
But for Dennerlein the journey is first and foremost personal. “To me, jazz is a synonym for freedom. Freedom from prejudice and discrimination, freedom from constraints and convention. This is my own definition of jazz that I want to convey to the listener – whether young or old, traditional or modernist, jazz fan or non-jazz fan.”
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