Barbara Dennerlein – Love Letters (2001)

Barbara Dennerlein - Love Letters (2001)
Artist: Barbara Dennerlein
Album: Love Letters
Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Hammond Organ
Origin: Germany
Released: 2001/2009
Quality: mp3, 192 kbps
Funkish (4:04)
Love Letters (14:22)
Tamburo (5:21)
Black Narcissus (5:34)
Jimmy’s Walk (7:05)
A Summer Day (8:47)
Frogs In Space (14:13)
Yes Or No (4:19)
Pendel der Zeit (9:37)


Much has been made of the fact that German Hammond B-3 player Barbara Dennerlein doesn’t sound very much like Jimmy Smith, and indeed, she doesn’t, which is truly an achievement, since Smith pretty much wrote the book on how to play the B-3 in a jazz setting. With her innovative use of foot pedals and the MIDI synthesizer, Dennerlein actually has moved the B-3 legacy forward into the next generation, and Love Letters, originally released on her own independent Bebab label, is ample evidence of how striking and intriguing she can make the Hammond sound. Working as part of a duo with drummer Daniel Messina, Dennerlein runs the gamut here from playfully funky on the lead track “Funkish” to downright loopy on the experimental epic “Frogs in Space.” She also shows on “Jimmy’s Walk” that she certainly can sound like Smith if she chooses to, and the track serves as sort of homage to the father of modern B-3 soul-jazz. Also worth noting is the delightful and full-sounding “A Summer Day,” which shows the range of Dennerlein’s compositional skills. Messina’s drumming is tight throughout, and the pair work together so well that one quickly forgets that there aren’t more musicians on these tracks, thanks in no small part to Dennerlein’s bass pedal work, which is phenomenal.
Review by Steve Leggett