Barbara Dennerlein

She was born in Munich, 1964. At an early age she fell in love one sound. Barbara discovered the Hammond organ while others were playing “Fur Elise”, or strumming “All you need is love” on their guitars. When the first home organ was installed in the Dennerlein family, she was only eleven years old. Her father was an organ lover and bought her the Christmas present out of self-interest. He could still play the organ if Barbara lost interest. It all worked out very differently. Barbara has never touched the instrument again. The fun didn’t end there. Barbara’s passion for music continued on to the fourth instrument: the “Holy Grail”, an original Hammond, long out of production, the legendary Hammond B3. Barbara began her own journey into the world music. She began to write her own songs as soon as she was able to. She began playing in clubs when she was fifteen years old, after her first performance as a thirteen year-old. She was known as “the organ tornado from Munich” in the early 1980s. Later, Harper’s Bazar asked: “How did the Fraulein become so wild?” The Los Angeles Times headlined the story: “German Organist Pumps you Up” Barbara has been a top critic in American jazz magazines for years and is able to call herself a member of devoted jazz friends around the world. She has managed to remain modest and straightforward throughout all of this, much like the “girl next door”. In interviews, she never fails to mention her parents’ support and seeks emotional closeness with her audience as they embark on a musical journey beyond the boundaries of traditional stylistic definitions. Barbara says that jazz is a synonym of freedom. Freedom from discrimination and prejudice, freedom from constraint and convention. This is my definition of jazz and I hope to share it with the listener. No matter your age, whether you are a jazz fan or not, young or old, modernist or traditionalist, or a jazz lover. Barbara is a perfectionist but she is also a skilled technician. It is evident from her performances that she is not a mere technician. Musical integration is what she places the most importance. Live bands she has assembled are excellent together. Her CDs feature hand-picked musicians who are versed in various styles. These include Ray Anderson, Antonio Hart and Mitch Watkins as well as first-rate musicians such Roy Hargrove, Bob Berg, Dennis Chambers, Frank Lacy, David Sanchez and Roy Hargrove. The support from respected record labels was crucial to her early success. Barbara’s albums were released by Enja (“Straight Ahead”, Hot Stuff”, and That’s Me”), and, more recently, Verve (“Take Off”, Junkanoo”, or “Outhipped”), respectively. Barbara started her own label, Bebab Records. She has also released many CDs on Bebab over the years. Barbara combines the B3 with samplers and synthesizers with MIDI technology to create a more orchestral sound. She is down-to-earth, groove-oriented and doesn’t drift into abstract musical science fiction. She is a skilled musician, but what really matters to her is her intensity and communication with her audience. She is equally at home with expressive ballads as she is with fast escapades on the keys or funky grooves. This energetic improviser has also made a name for her original compositions. Barbara took a bold step and released “Love Letters” (2001) on Bebab Records. This musical declaration of love is filled with many emotions and takes you on an exciting musical journey through diverse musical worlds, unique grooves, and captivating soundscapes. This was another step in the evolution of an artist who is never satisfied and always seeks new challenges. This duo CD is the culmination of years of intensive and creative collaboration with her drummer, percussionist, and producer. Barbara recorded a CD that reflects her innermost thoughts, aspirations, and it is a very original and personal recording. “In a Silent Mood,” is a fascinating and revealing insight into Barbara’s musical personality. Barbara shines on this solo CD performance, playing in her own studio without interruptions. Barbara adds to the classic B3 sound with subtle and elegant synthesizer sounds and sampler sounds. All of this is done “straight”, without any studio tricks or overdubs. Barbara’s amazing bass pedal work is what sets her apart from other Hammond B3 artists. Many people mistakenly believe she is accompanied with a bassist. But, in fact those complex bass lines are Barbara’s blindingly fast left leg. Her incredible bass pedal work is unmatched by anyone else! Barbara says that the bass pedals are essential to how I play the Hammond. They allow me to create a unique rhythmic structure that is difficult for a bass player to imitate, as I have the two manuals and a rhythmic triptych. Barbara was inspired by the Bach Days in Wurzburg 1994 pipe organ concert and began a period of intensive activity with the “queen” of instruments, the pipe organ. Barbara was able to harness the enormous musical potential of this instrument thanks to her mastery of the pedals. Sometimes, she even composed works specifically for it. It was a stunning result that proved that even though the instrument seemed slow and heavy, it could still swing. Since then, Barbara has thrilled audiences on numerous great concert organs, such as the Dobson organ at the Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Spreckels organ at Spreckel’s Pavillion at Balboa Park in San Diego, the Gewandhaus organ in Leipzig, the Klais organ in the Munich Philharmonic, the Steinmeyer organ in the St Michaelis church in Hamburg, the Schuke organ in St Paul’s church in Darmstadt, the von-Beckerath organ in the Hanover Market church, the Rieger organ in the Dusseldorf Neander church, and the organ at the famous Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtnis church, a landmark in Berlin. Listeners are transported to new worlds, where jazz is infused with classical elements. Unforgettable are also the concerts featuring legendary pianist Friedrich Gulda and Barbara on the Hammond organ at renowned concert halls such as the Philharmonic Orchestras of Cologne, Munich, Brucknerhaus Linz and the Konzert Hall and Musikverein Vienna. Gulda utilized his entire musical talent to create a symbiosis between classical music and jazz that transcended any genre or style limitations. Barbara, a close friend of Friedrich Gulda, uses the same approach to music in her works. Barbara’s album, “Spiritual Movement No.1”, (Bebab 250970), was long anticipated by her fans. It was recorded exclusively on the pipe organ and released in 2002. Barbara Dennerlein is finally bringing jazz to the pipe organ. Barbara Dennerlein has been increasingly sought after for television performances in recent years. One notable example was on New Year’s Eve 2000 when she presented 24 hours worth of jazz on Germany’s 3sat TV network. This took her viewers on a musical journey into 2001. She dazzled viewers at the Harald Schmidt Show (Germany’s equivalent to America’s David Letterman). Harald’s one word response to one piece was a shouted, “Wow!” Barbara is charming and passionate musician. This is part of her appeal. What does jazz mean to you? Jazz is not a one-dimensional art form for her, which is why she is so beloved by her audience. “My music is as diverse as my emotions and the world that I live in. This influences and inspires. A single style or one direction could only reflect a small portion of my musical world. Her latest Duo-format CD, “Barbara Dennerlein Duo — It’s Magic”, (2005) shows the close interaction between drummer and organist, live in concert. The album is full of charm, humour, and humor. Barbara performs at her best live, so this CD will be a hit with new fans. Even those who are skeptical about the “jazz” music genre, they are sure to make a lasting impression. Barbara recently released her new CD, “Change of Pace”, which was also published by Bebab Records. This recording of exclusively her compositions is a collaboration between Barbara on B3 with saxophone and drums, and a full symphony orchestra: the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Rhineland-Palatinate, under the direction of the internationally renowned conductor Bernd Ruf. This extraordinary CD combines the Hammond Trio, including Barbara’s amazing footpedal bass, with a full symphonic orchestra to stunning effect. Barbara just released her second CD, “Spiritual Movement No.2”, in October 2008. This CD is a much-anticipated encore to her critically acclaimed CD “Spiritual Movement No.1”. It features jazz on the pipe organ at a level that has never been heard before. Barbara performs jazz compositions, mainly her own, on this live recording at the famous Emperor William Memorial Church, Berlin. If you still don’t believe that this 4-manual, 5-pipe monster can swing, just spend a few minutes listening to her super-cool version “Satisfaction”. Barbara was the only one who could breathe life into a tired war horse like “Satisfaction”, and bring it to life. It’s an instrument that most people associate with church music. Barbara Dennerlein, whether she plays on the B3 or the pipe organ, solo or with a trio, quartet or quintet or even with full orchestra backing, is undoubtedly the First Lady of Organ. from

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