Barbara Dennerlein Hammond organ & footpedals, synthesizer
“CHANGE OF PACE”
A Symphonic Experience with Peter Lehel saxophone, Daniel Messina drums & percussion and the German Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland Pfalz
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She is a bundle of energy, full of creative restlessness, brimming with ideas and activity, on a permanent quest to enhance artistic outcomes, never content with her attainments, continuously advancing and adapting, a work in progress. In this respect CHANGE OF PACE is not only the title of one of Barbara Dennerlein’s most interesting compositions, but in actual fact her philosophy of life. An exceptional musician of international standing, she is, in a literal sense, a star on the legendary Hammond B3 Organ (a grand original from the fifties.) Today, on a global stage, the technical brilliance of her playing remains unrivaled.
Even with blisteringly fast tempi and thorny rhythmic figurations, it is her incredible footwork with the bass pedals – the Dennerlein “trademark” – that provides a sensational crowning touch to her playing. It is not just the bravura of her interpretation – be it swing, bebop, blues, funk, soul, Latin, ballads, or tricky rhythms (she loves uneven time signatures) that causes Barbara Dennerlein to stand out in such a fascinating way.
CHANGE OF PACE which documents her advance into an entirely new area of music. This remarkable project, bringing together an organ-jazz trio with a philharmonic orchestra, represents a musical first, and the development, in terms of aesthetics, of a fundamentally new musical dimension.
Barbara Dennerlein has said: “The convergence of classical music and jazz that I became acquainted with during my long years of collaboration with Friedrich Gulda has always fascinated me. The project “Change Of Pace” is very dear to me and represents the fulfillment of a long cherished dream. Even as I composed the titles ‘Change of Pace’ and ‘Pendel der Zeit’ (Pendulum of Time), I imagined how terrific it would be to perform these pieces with a philharmonic orchestra. The freedom in a jazz formation to improvise combined with the unbelievably rich sound of an orchestra playing from a score is extremely exciting to me. It was indeed a great experience and a challenge for me, though I must admit that first and foremost it was fun. That is also my appeal to the listener: Don’t over-think things, but have fun with challenging music!”
The result is a coequal coming together of the poles of CLASSIC and JAZZ on the difficultly balanced level of corresponding, dialoging, and contrasting. The musical identity of both “partners” is preserved, while the space for jazz improvisation is expanded. At the center of things, operating with near limitless variability is Barbara Dennerlein on her Hammond B3, her own quasi-orchestra, no doubt stirred by the truly excellent musicianship of the symphony orchestra (in turn inspired by the artist) led with great personal engagement by Bernd Ruf.
It would hardly serve the listening pleasure (the primary concern) if one were to dissect the four arrangements of this concert in meticulous detail. The decisive factor is that the basic compositional idea and the typical Dennerlein dramaturgy (the gradual ascending curve from a quiet contemplative demeanor to an explosive crescendo) are adequately executed within the context of an Organ Jazz Trio / Philharmonic Orchestra. The arrangements endow the original material, played exclusively by small jazz ensembles in the past, with an as yet unknown transparency, richness of tone, suspense, dynamic, intensity, and emotional depth. As the titles of the individual pieces convey the composer’s intention, the listener’s fantasy derives a degree of orientation, when he, hopefully with a sense of openness, embarks on this wide-ranging musical adventure.
Longing - Yearning, hope, jubilant triumph and realization. Masterful orchestra passages full of suspense and dynamic. A scintillating organ solo played as a jazz waltz, in Duo with the first class argentine drummer, Daniel Messina.
A Summer Day - An array of feelings, impressions of a pleasant and colorful summer day, from the sound of silence to an approaching storm with lightening and thunder. Orchestral prelude with a stunning contrabass solo introduction on the bass pedals! A slowly intensifying organ solo, followed by a soprano saxophone solo with an almost seamless continuation of the mood, crescendo.
Pendel der Zeit (Pendulum of Time) – A reflection on something that is often lost to the hectic pace of everyday life - “living in the moment”. This is an invitation to appreciate the here and now and sink into the music – Consonance, Heightening, Contrast – variations from the organ and the orchestra, increasing emotional intensity with a powerfully moving tenor sax solo in an intimate exchange with the Hammond organ, leading to an optimistic and harmonious closing. Overall an almost contemplative mood.
Change Of Pace – The title alludes to the evolving structure of perhaps the most original Dennerlein composition, a piece that demands consummate skill from the artist, as well as the arranger, Peter Lehel, and represents an immense challenge for the philharmonic orchestra. Constant thematic variations and abrupt changes of tempi, meter, key, and tone, as well as the intensity, dynamic, and instrumental combinations provide the connecting thread with which Barbara Dennerlein weaves a magical and dazzling groove. She demonstrates the entire spectrum of her superb and unbelievably inventive talents, including her bass pedal technique, and raises the level of intensity in a truly breathtaking fashion, building the level of suspense up to the release of the final crescendo. This is the masterpiece of the entire production HAMMOND MEETS ORCHESTRA
The Long Way Blues – The encore performance is taken on by Barbara Dennerlein’s longest and most popular formation, the organ and drums duo. With a depth of feeling and a fascinating intensity the artist convincingly plays slow and earthy “down home” blues. For years this has drawn jazz lovers everywhere to her in a special way, both in terms of emotion and technique. With her approach to the blues she proves that the “long way” can indeed appear short.